would you let a 9 year old alone at the library? - Page 3 - Mothering Forums

View Poll Results: Is it OK for a 9 year old to attend a book club alone at the library?
Yes. Sure. Why not? 119 76.28%
Hmmm. Not so sure 10 6.41%
Absolutely not. 9 5.77%
Maybe. 16 10.26%
The Proverbial Other 2 1.28%
Voters: 156. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 01-31-2012, 09:36 AM
 
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We live in a very small town so our policies are probably different than those in large cities, especially since the children's librarian knows just about every kid that walks through the door. Kids 3 and under have to have a parent in the same room with them, kids 4-7 need to have a parent in the building, and kids 8 and up can be there alone so long as the librarian has the parent's contact information. And although she knows the policies she also knows most of the kids well enough to know who can/needs to be an exception on both side- there are kids who despite being old enough are not mature enough to be there alone and there are kids that are not old enough who do fine on their on their own.

 

It's been 23 years since I was 9 so things have changed quite a bit but my mom used to leave myself and my 7yr old brother alone in the kids section of the main downtown branch of the Multnomah County Library while she would get her hair cut and run a few errands. We were probably there 2-3hrs at a time. We loved it and never strayed as far as I can remember. I think I was 12  or 13 though before she let me take the bus there by myself.


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Old 01-31-2012, 10:05 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crunchy_mommy View Post

meemee are you worried about someone reporting you child abandonment? is that why you feel comfortable leaving her home alone but question leaving her in public, even with a librarian/teacher?


in general yes. as a single coparenting mom that is always at the back of my mind. in this case no. neither do i question leaving her alone with the librarian.

 

the point is dd has always wanted to be alone in public. go over to her friends house a couple of blocks away, go over to the corner store a couple of blocks away, take the public bus to school, even shop at the grocery store by herself, get a sandwich from the sandwich shop by herself, etc. i would have had no problems myself letting her walk but i didnt trust others calling CPS. the stores of course had the 12 year has to be accompanied by adult policy. no where here is a child allowed to be truly alone. they can be under the supervision of the teacher. even a swim class here, the parent is not allowed to drop and go do their thing. they are asked to stay there for a 9 year old. other sports yes they can leave their child with the coaches.

 

so this is the first time i have come across a situation where i dont even have to  be in the building. that to me is amazing. esp. since a different branch wont let us do that. they dont have a book club but they have 'building' class and the parent has to be on the premises.

 

i am elated - shocked - that finally dd finds someplace in public that she can be completely alone.

 

however because of the fear of child abandonment i wont let dd walk there alone and walk back even though i know she is capable of it. if she walks with a bunch of other kids i will let her.  

 


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Old 01-31-2012, 11:26 AM
 
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I am generally fine with it. I think kids need more freedom.


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Old 01-31-2012, 12:06 PM
 
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This is a timely discussion for me because just recently, I left my 3 year old son at the front desk of our library to run out to the car where my husband was waiting with our younger son to grab his library card.  I returned in less than 30 seconds (really, it's a small library branch with a tiny parking lot) and found a few librarians hovering near my son like he was some abandoned child.  Surely the librarians at the check out desk were well aware that I'm stepping out for a few seconds, but despite that, they seemed so so worried.  I thought that their concern over a boy sitting quietly reading a book by himself for 30 seconds seemed disproportional.  I live in a suburb of Phoenix, nice area, I don't know the library rules on parental supervision. We just opened an account at that library that day.   I grew up in another country where my mom left me in the stroller in front of the store she shopped at.  That was a common thing to do there, so I may have more naive beliefs about these things.  Statistically, chances of a child being abducted in a public place, by a complete stranger are very very slim.  I am of the mindset that we cannot live in paralyzing fear all the time.  In this case, using good judgement is essential and should be based in part on your environment and children's level of development and temperament.  

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Old 01-31-2012, 12:31 PM
 
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We also lived in the understanding that 12 is the earliest that you can leave your child unattended at home or in a public place without adult supervision. Once he stayed in the electronics section of Toys-R-Us while we went to look at the baby items and he was told that he can't be there without an adult and had to phone us immediately to "pick him up" even though we were all off 15 meters away. He started taking bus home from school at 12, but we ask him to phone right after school and when he arrives home. As for leaving three year olds in classes - mine is very attached and I only look for courses that allow for a parent to be present. I have only seen story hours for little ones and parents always wait around for those, so I don't actually feel that it is adult supervision from the librarian. They do their best to engage the child in reading and playing, but the responsibility of taking that child to the washroom if they suddenly need to go is still with a parent. Obviously, with the older kids the expectation is that they can behave properly and not run around screaming - which is in fact exactly what my now 13y.o and 3 y.o. do every so often in the library. 


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Old 01-31-2012, 12:46 PM
 
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I don't have a problem with this.  I'd likely take my son to the location of the club and let him know where he could find me.  If it were that large of a library I don't think I'd just drop him off at the entrance unless he was familiar with the location and had a friend or two to walk with.

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Old 01-31-2012, 01:18 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChandlerKate View Post

This is a timely discussion for me because just recently, I left my 3 year old son at the front desk of our library to run out to the car where my husband was waiting with our younger son to grab his library card.  I returned in less than 30 seconds (really, it's a small library branch with a tiny parking lot) and found a few librarians hovering near my son like he was some abandoned child.  Surely the librarians at the check out desk were well aware that I'm stepping out for a few seconds, but despite that, they seemed so so worried.  I thought that their concern over a boy sitting quietly reading a book by himself for 30 seconds seemed disproportional.  I live in a suburb of Phoenix, nice area, I don't know the library rules on parental supervision. We just opened an account at that library that day.   I grew up in another country where my mom left me in the stroller in front of the store she shopped at.  That was a common thing to do there, so I may have more naive beliefs about these things.  Statistically, chances of a child being abducted in a public place, by a complete stranger are very very slim.  I am of the mindset that we cannot live in paralyzing fear all the time.  In this case, using good judgement is essential and should be based in part on your environment and children's level of development and temperament.  

3 is a little young.

 

Did you ask the librarian if she would watch your son for a minute?  Please do so in the future - anything else is an imposition.

 

Honestly, if I saw an unattended 3 yr old, I would go visit them (hover) until the parent came back.

 

Many young children attempt to find "mommy' if she disappears. At least once a month I follow a toddler or preschooler into the hall, because they are looking for mommy (often in the washroom, and they usually have asked me if I will watch their child for a minute).  There is a door to the parking lot there, and that is a danger.  

 

 

 

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Old 01-31-2012, 01:33 PM
 
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I work in a medium sized public library and understand that parents may feel the library is a safe place, but the truth is we can't see what children are doing at all times, and don't know who is a safe adult for them to be with or not, and cannot monitor all of their computer use.  If you wouldn't drop your child off at your local mall, don't drop them off at the library! Sexual predators know that parents do this all the time, and it would be easy to groom a child at the library as you could begin talking with them about books or the computer game that they are playing.. the possibilities are endless even if the actual abuse doesn't take place there.

 

I wouldn't say that the library is any different than a mall safety wise, it is a public place where anyone can come for good or bad motives.

 

Of course in a structured program it is safe to drop off your child at the programming room and then leave as the librarian will only let your young child go home with you, and they are supervised at all times. Which is I think what this question is about, but others have gotten into the general idea of letting a 9 year old attend by themselves and hang out. I think it is very o.k. to let your 9 year old attend a program by themselves just as you would a class at the YMCA etc.

 

At nine, I did go to the library by myself to get a book, but there was a time limit and I had to check in. I also was allowed to walk home from school with my friends, which I can't even picture my daughter doing now. I think that it was a more innocent time, but there are and always were a small minority of people who use our trust in the goodness of others to exploit children. So I guess what is appropriate would depend on the maturity level and streetwise level of your child.

  

 

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Old 01-31-2012, 02:44 PM
 
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I was going to post along the lines of what Camille said. If you wouldn't leave her at the mall alone, don't leave her at the library either. Although it's for a group activity that takes place during a specific time, so I think I'd be okay with that. But I just picture one of the two libraries that is close to us, and think that I wouldn't even let my 12 year old stay there unattended, like to do a project or something. There are just too many people who appear to live there and there are too many blind corners where no one goes. The other location is better but I'd still be nervous b/c the computers are way off at the opposite end of the building from the desk, and there is no way to see/hear if there is trouble over there.

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Old 01-31-2012, 02:47 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kathymuggle View Post


 

Honestly, if I saw an unattended 3 yr old, I would go visit them (hover) until the parent came back.

 


 

 

 

Yes, I would too.  Or at least keep an eye on them from a distance (I probably wouldn't approach them because if they were anything like my ds they would totally start freaking out).  It's happened a couple of times that I've seen really little kids seemingly unattended in busy (urban) places and I've just surreptitiously kept an eye on them until it became obvious who they were with.  I'd love to think another mama would do the same if they saw my (4yo) ds "by himself".

 

As for the original question "would I leave my 9yo alone at the library?"... well... my oldest is only 7, but yes, I would leave her at the library if she was taking part in an adult-led class.  And I would leave her in the children's section while I went to the adult section.  I would not drop her off at the library just to browse (ie. not in a class or organized activity).
 

 


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Old 01-31-2012, 02:47 PM
 
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You don't mention that you said anything to the librarians. How did they know how long you planned to be gone, or where you had gone? It's really good that they were paying attention--it means they care about what happens to kids in the library. 

 

I don't imagine your mom would have left you in the stroller in front of her favorite store if she thought the storekeepers and other shoppers were indifferent to whether some other mom walked off with you. 

 

 

There's a really big difference between leaving a child at the library for a program, or under the librarians' supervision, and just leaving them on their own. A 9-year-old might have the maturity to be left alone in the children's room to use the computer in there--my son won't even let me leave the room without him for a second, so I don't know!

 

In general, I think the OP is confused by the behavior of the librarians at her college, who treat her daughter like she isn't even a sentient being. This is a different situation--a program for kids her age. I'm a little more shocked by the college librarians, frankly. 
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChandlerKate View Post

This is a timely discussion for me because just recently, I left my 3 year old son at the front desk of our library to run out to the car where my husband was waiting with our younger son to grab his library card.  I returned in less than 30 seconds (really, it's a small library branch with a tiny parking lot) and found a few librarians hovering near my son like he was some abandoned child.  Surely the librarians at the check out desk were well aware that I'm stepping out for a few seconds, but despite that, they seemed so so worried.  I thought that their concern over a boy sitting quietly reading a book by himself for 30 seconds seemed disproportional.  I live in a suburb of Phoenix, nice area, I don't know the library rules on parental supervision. We just opened an account at that library that day.   I grew up in another country where my mom left me in the stroller in front of the store she shopped at.  That was a common thing to do there, so I may have more naive beliefs about these things.  Statistically, chances of a child being abducted in a public place, by a complete stranger are very very slim.  I am of the mindset that we cannot live in paralyzing fear all the time.  In this case, using good judgement is essential and should be based in part on your environment and children's level of development and temperament.  



 


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Old 01-31-2012, 07:16 PM
 
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I went rather a long way to the library by myself at 9 and spent as long as I wanted there.  I would allow my children (7 & 8) to go there on their own now if it was not across a highway.  I don't understand what the world's coming to.  The library is a great space for kids to be real people.

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Old 01-31-2012, 07:18 PM
 
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I look for books while my DD does library programs but I wouldn't just leave because that isn't allowed. They have security guards and have called the police when kids are left alone at the library so it is too big of a risk. If they allowed it I would leave and do my own thing as I do for many of her other activities and have for years.
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Old 01-31-2012, 07:27 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChandlerKate View Post

Surely the librarians at the check out desk were well aware that I'm stepping out for a few seconds, but despite that, they seemed so so worried.  I thought that their concern over a boy sitting quietly reading a book by himself for 30 seconds seemed disproportional.  I live in a suburb of Phoenix, nice area, I don't know the library rules on parental supervision. We just opened an account at that library that day.   I grew up in another country where my mom left me in the stroller in front of the store she shopped at.  That was a common thing to do there, so I may have more naive beliefs about these things.  .  


 

It's considered child abandonment here. You have to change to doing things the American Way or you could easily have CPS called.

 

One of my friends is an investigator for CPS and she has had to sit down with moms who are now in the system and explain to them that in the US, we don't leave small children unattended in public places AT ALL.

 

Seriously -- this is a huge deal. This is not about your judgment about whether or not this is safe. This about about whether you want CPS in your life, and you don't. No body wants CPS in their life.

 

Back to the OP -- at 9 I wouldn't have left my kids in the library where we live. It's not to say that another child wouldn't be ready at that age, or a smaller library in a different city might be different, but not in our situation. The first time I left my kids at the library without me was last summer and they were 13 and 14 at the time. But we have a lot of homeless people at the library, and it isn't overly close to our house anyway. Going there without me doesn't make a lot of sense. I believe our library has a policy that children under 12 aren't to be left, but it very, very welcoming to teens and has a special room for them set aside from the main library. They encourage teens to use it as a meeting room/hang out.

 

But a nine year old is a child, not a teen.


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Old 02-01-2012, 10:27 AM
 
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My ds has been riding his bike to the library since he was 9.  Last summer I let him(11) and dd (6) ride their bikes there alone.  They loved being "big" and it didn't even occur to me that it wasn't an ok thing to do.  I used to ride my bike 3 miles to the library and stay there all day in the summer.  

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Old 02-01-2012, 11:28 AM
 
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meh, depends upon the kid.

when i was 9, my mom worked downtown and sometimes in the summer i had to go to work with her- she let me walk to the library, check out stuff, and walk back to where she worked.

many libraries have a policy against kids under a particular age being left unsupervised, though.  sometimes people do treat public libraries like daycare, leaving their little ones and expecting someone else to manage them for an unspecified amount of time.  it can be a problem, but it can also be a problem when kids don't get to do things on their own that they are quite capable of.


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Old 02-02-2012, 08:04 PM
 
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I don't think it is unsafe for a 9 year-old to attend and event at the library alone... I often let my 7 year-old, almost 8 year-old run into the library while I am next door at a cafe with his little brother...

 

But also, kids can have a variety of heights/sizes and perhaps the librarian assumed you child was older, if they have a policy about age... My almost 11 year-old is the same size as many 8/9 year-olds.  It often hard for strangers to judge the ages of children they don't know... and he was reading the warrior books at 7/8...

 

So, she can invite, but its still up to the parent, yk?


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Old 02-02-2012, 10:17 PM
 
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I don't think every one in the thread is talking about the same thing.

 

I think it is very different to drop a child off at an activity and pick them up when the activity is over than to just let them hang out with no supervision. I also think traveling to and from a public place is yet another, different thing.

 

I don't see anything surprising about a 9 year old attending an activity and mom leaving the building.

 

It is against the rules at our library (and many others) for children under 12 to just hang out without a parent.

 

I find the idea of a 9 year old traveling without an adult odd -- it would not be the norm where I live (mid-sized American city). At all. Not even close.

 

However, we lived for a while in a small town in Canada and children much younger than that traveled around town without adults.

 


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Old 02-03-2012, 07:36 AM
 
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Well, I learned something new yesterday.  It turns out that the library where I work does have a formal policy.  I obviously have not read the personnel manual very thoroughly.  So, for our mid-sized library, the policy is children 8 and under have to be with a parent, including to stay in the library for story time.  9 and above can be there without a parent.  However, they do really evaluate it on a case-by-case basis.  I was told that they have called parents on a 12 year old before because they were not respecting the rules and they've had kids as young as 7 there with an older sibling.

 

Still, we did discuss the fact that the librarians don't know everyone (we're too big) and they don't keep an eye on kids except to make sure they are observing the rules.  It was mutually agreed that being at the library is no safer than letting a kid go to the store by themselves.  It's not as *crowded*, but we definitely have some weirdos that come in, so something can happen.  I leave dd there all the time and have done for years, but I work there and she hangs out with my co-workers.  I don't think I'd let her, even now at 10, at the city library alone or even our home library, which is about twice the size and patron base as the one I work in.

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Old 02-03-2012, 12:41 PM
 
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I didn't read through all of the responses, but I voted smile.gif

Just wanted to chime in that I walked, alone, to the library (a little under 1/2 a mile away) as a 9 year old all.the.time. Seriously, probably 4-5 times a week in the summer. Once, I fell down on the way home and skinned my knee (because I was reading a book whilst walking and tripped over a tree root) and a stranger came out of her house and cleaned me up (all outside, on the sidewalk) and offered to call my mom, but I just finished walking home. My town has fewer than 2,000 people and basically no traffic. I was on a first-name basis with the librarian.

Edited to add: I was frequently the only person at the library besides the librarian, so no real risk of being preyed upon there.

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Old 02-03-2012, 02:02 PM
 
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Our youngest is 9yo and she can definitely go to the library alone.  It's usually not for a class, but I do set a time limit generally so they don't mill around bored goofing off after a long while.  Her older brother at 12yo (an aspie) has only been allowed the same this year as he has a lot of difficulty with boundaries--he couldn't handle it at 9yo.  All that said, we live about 2 blocks from our library and dh and I run a retail business on the same block as the library and we live in a fairly small city where all the librarians know my kids by name.  It could depend.  I voted yes anyway because for the most part I think yes especially for a formal class.


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Old 02-04-2012, 02:14 AM - Thread Starter
 
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so thursday afternoon was movie afternoon. the last harry potter. dd just HAD to go. so i went in to talk to the librarian. it was a different librarian altogether. i asked her if dd can watch the movie by herself and i go home. so dd would watch the movie by herself. librarian said it was upto me. there is no supervision during movie time. so she reminded me there would be no staff at the community room with is right next to the gate. she said she personally wouldnt do it, but it was upto me.

 

so i left dd there. and then came back to pick her up. i kinda sign languaged to her where we would be, but i think she was too intent on the movie. so while i read and waited for the movie to finish i got engrossed in the book. so i went looking for her and she was in the children's section perusing the titles. 

 

this is not the main branch of the library but it is one of their biggest branches. there is always a tonne of people in there. however what i found very interesting is that this library in the afternoon and early evening is full of kids and teens. i see them crossing the road alone and be in the library alone. so maybe this branch because of its youth members have a different take on supervision than other libraries. 

 

thanks Velochic for checking the official policy. 

 

oh and btw we are new there. so the librarian had never met my dd before. however dd is a big kid and she easily passes off for a tween. 


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Old 02-05-2012, 10:48 PM
 
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Personally, I would plan to stay in the building.  How long can book club possibly be, first off?  Second, I am of the mindset of the "what if?"  Where I live, the libraries we go to are pretty far from anything else I'd go to, like the grocery store.  What if I got in a car wreck and couldn't get back to my child?  He would be scared, and it's not the librarian's responsibility.  But here, the preschool storytimes and the puppet shows things like that allow the parents to leave the child in the room at the program while parents browse.  Preschool storytime is 3-5.  I personally have only done the 3-5 storytime a couple times.  I've noticed at these things, lots of parents are in the room, if not right next to their kids.

MAYBE I would walk downtown if I was leaving a child at something at the downtown library here.  

Mine are 7.5.3.1 and I would stay in the room if I took any of them to storytime or anything right now.  Even just the 7 and 5.  I've taken my 7 yr. old to play Wii at one branch, he goes in the room alone.  He still comes to find me and have me watch him play a set.  He doesn't want me to not be there for long!
 


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Old 02-07-2012, 07:24 PM
 
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Wow, I didn't know there were still places where anyone would leave a 9 year old alone in a library. There was a case in the last place I lived (Redmond, WA) of a child of 7 being molested at the library, and after that they made a rule about not leaving children (not sure the age but it was something like 12) alone in the library. I would think a book club might have an adult running it which would be totally different. My almost 9 year old would not be comfortable being left at the library for a book club, but he has separation anxiety.

On a related topic, we have been reading some of the Beverly Cleary Books, and often kids as young as 9 are left alone or allowed to walk around the neighborhood alone. The books date mostly from the 50s and 60s, a few from the 70s, so maybe things have changed, or maybe Portland is really that kind of town still. 


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Old 02-08-2012, 10:04 AM
 
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On a related topic, we have been reading some of the Beverly Cleary Books, and often kids as young as 9 are left alone or allowed to walk around the neighborhood alone. The books date mostly from the 50s and 60s, a few from the 70s, so maybe things have changed, or maybe Portland is really that kind of town still. 


This was pretty typical when I was growing up in the 70's in a city on the other side of the country but that's actually pretty similar in size to Portland.  Most, well really all as far as I know, kids were free to roam the neighborhood from a pretty young age.  I remember doing so from as young as 7.  Lots of times me and my best friend had her younger sister with us who would have been 5, although she couldn't go as far as us.  No one thought this unusual as far as I know.  By the time I was 8 or 9, I was walking several blocks to a business district with a library and shops, sometimes alone, sometimes with friends.  Again, no one batted an eyelash.  

 

Before we had kids, my husband and I couldn't figure out why people in our neighborhood were walking similar aged kids to the bus stop in our quiet residential area.  Then once we had kids, we realized how much parenting had changed although I don't think the world is any less safe now.  

 

 

edited for spelling 

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Old 02-08-2012, 03:40 PM
 
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Before we had kids, my husband and I couldn't figure out why people in our neighborhood were walking similar aged kids to the bus stop in our quiet residential area.  Then once we had kids, we realized how much parenting had changed although I don't think the world is any less safe now.  

 

 

 


Actually, I believe that statistically the world is far SAFER than it was in "the good old days." We only perceive that things are somehow much more dangerous and scary.

 

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Old 02-08-2012, 08:28 PM
 
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There was a case in the last place I lived (Redmond, WA) of a child of 7 being molested at the library, and after that they made a rule about not leaving children (not sure the age but it was something like 12) alone in the library. I would think a book club might have an adult running it which would be totally different. My almost 9 year old would not be comfortable being left at the library for a book club, but he has separation anxiety.

On a related topic, we have been reading some of the Beverly Cleary Books, and often kids as young as 9 are left alone or allowed to walk around the neighborhood alone. The books date mostly from the 50s and 60s, a few from the 70s, so maybe things have changed, or maybe Portland is really that kind of town still. 



What!?!?!  That is where I live (the Redmond library is the library we use all the time). When did that happen?


 

 

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Old 02-08-2012, 09:08 PM
 
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I think it happened two years ago. It was in the local paper, the Redmond Reporter. My ds was 7 at the time and he's almost 9 now. I can't find it on Google but it struck me at the time because I didn't realize people ever left their kids alone there. Hmm, but I did find this article from the same time: 

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/theblotter/2013203869_police_two_girls_fondled_at_bo.html


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Old 02-08-2012, 09:38 PM
 
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If the program was supervised with sign in and out, I would do it, but I don't feel that my son is ready otherwise, and he's 9.

 

I don't know about your library, but it seems that most libraries attract a lot of homeless people...think about it....free A/C, shelter from rain, free bathrooms, free chairs to sleep on, free computers, books, music, etc. Many homeless people are mentally ill and/or have addiction problems. We used to live on the same street as the library and weird people were always knocking on our door, asking for handouts or asking if they could do any work around the yard. One man asked if I had a weight for his fishing pole...he had no shirt on and sores all over him...another guy asked if I could tell him where the police station was, and he was on foot...there was the lady with several small children that wanted to put them to work raking our yard for money.

 

I saw an old man talking to himself outside the library once and he had this lost look in his eyes. He took out a bottle of mustard from his bag and started rubbing it all over his hands. Then he took out a pair of scissors and started fondling them...I called the police because I was afraid he could hurt someone or himself, but they said they couldn't do anything.

 

I was attacked by a mentally ill person while walking home from school when I was 15 (my neighborhood was very safe...strictly residential, no crime...this guy just simply fell through the cracks of the system. Institution let him out for a visitation weekend and he didn't return and they never called authorities to bring him back in). Because I have a past experience with being attacked and because of the bizarre people that hang out at my library, and because my son is not ready to be independent yet, I would say no, unless it was a structured, supervised activity...but your situation may be different. 

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Old 02-09-2012, 06:26 AM
 
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Actually, I believe that statistically the world is far SAFER than it was in "the good old days." We only perceive that things are somehow much more dangerous and scary.


Yeah, I think a lot of it is due to mass media coverage starting with a couple of highly publicized cases in the late 70s/early 80s and now the internet. I fully admit to falling victim to irrational fears after hearing about such stories.  I read about an incident on this very board a few of years ago that I still can't shake.  I think about almost every night when I'm locking up the house even thought I know it's so statistically unlikely it's not worth fretting over.  Between that and the changed social norms, I don't see my kids having the same freedom in childhood that I did which I find kind of sad.  

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