would you let a 9 year old alone at the library? - Page 4 - 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%
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Old 02-09-2012, 06:40 AM
 
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 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.  



We can fight back, push back about these social norms. 

I have seen too many teenagers be, in my opinion, completely incompetent ... can't navigate anywhere (never rode their bikes by themselves), unwilling to walk, bike ride or take a bus; and the overweight statistics for my state are shocking.

 

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Old 02-09-2012, 07:05 AM
 
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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. 

I'm sorry, I'm trying really hard to let this go but something about it really bothers me. It feels like you are stigmatizing homeless people & those who are mentally ill. greensad.gif I guess given your experience it makes sense for you to be afraid (and I'm so sorry you had to go through that), but most homeless or mentally ill people are harmless or only a danger to themselves...

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Old 02-09-2012, 11:37 AM
 
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Libraries? what about popular stores?

 

Yay for this seven-year-old who fended off a possible abductor in a major box store:

 

http://gma.yahoo.com/video/parenting-26594265/little-girl-fights-off-abductor-in-walmart-28242481.html

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I havent read the entire thread, but I would totally leave a 9 year old at the library alone. With a cell phone. When I was in 5th grade (around 9-10) I went to our library alone, and I remember thinking how awful my parents were because they wouldnt drop me off at the HUGE mall with my friends to walk around by ourselves and eat in the food court. Now that, I cant imagine doing until my kid is at least 13 or 14.

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Old 02-12-2012, 10:27 PM
 
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Originally Posted by crunchy_mommy View Post


I'm sorry, I'm trying really hard to let this go but something about it really bothers me. It feels like you are stigmatizing homeless people & those who are mentally ill. greensad.gif I guess given your experience it makes sense for you to be afraid (and I'm so sorry you had to go through that), but most homeless or mentally ill people are harmless or only a danger to themselves...


Sorry! I thought it might come across that way. I mentioned that I was worried about addicts as well as mentally ill people.... but I know that I rambled on about all the "weird" folks in my neighborhood too...I went off on a tangent and didn't mean to connect the two. 

 

I know that we will come across mentally ill and addicted people everywhere in life, but since my library is known to attract them, I am able to have a little bit of control over his chances of running into a dangerous situation or witnessing something disturbing while he is unsupervised (at least until he is a little older and able to understand the dangers). If I know the "chances" are higher of something disturbing happening in a particular place, I try to be with my child when he has to go to that place for now. 

 

Sorry if I sound like I am stigmatizing. I am sure there are many homeless addicts and mentally ill people who are not a threat.

 

I do not blame the man who attacked me when I was a girl at all. It was not his fault. He attacked many people over the years that he was in and out of hospitals. It's a shame we can't do more for homeless people who need mental healthcare and addiction recovery help in this country....so many fall through the cracks....but that's a whole other thread!

 

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Old 02-13-2012, 09:17 AM
 
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Originally Posted by crunchy_mommy View Post

I'm sorry, I'm trying really hard to let this go but something about it really bothers me. It feels like you are stigmatizing homeless people & those who are mentally ill. greensad.gif I guess given your experience it makes sense for you to be afraid (and I'm so sorry you had to go through that), but most homeless or mentally ill people are harmless or only a danger to themselves...

It didn't strike me that way. It struck me as good judgment. A nine year old isn't qualified to make the judgment as to whether or not other people's mental health issues or substance abuse problems make them harmful or harmless. As such, dropping her off in a place where such people congregate is an exercise in poor judgment. I find that to be a valid point to the discussion.

It doesn't necessarily speak to the thread starter's circumstances, but it is at least applicable to the library of the person who posted, and might be something to consider for others using this thread to stretch their own parameters for their children's independence.
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Old 02-13-2012, 11:54 AM
 
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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. 



My sister (a year younger than me), a friend (a year older than me), and I used to catch the bus across town to watch movies, when I was no more than seven. It was about a half hour bus ride. We also used to walk up to the local rec centre to go swimming, without an adult. That was...10 blocks, almost exactly, and we had to cross on of the major streets in our municipality. I wouldn't let my kids do that, but our municipality has also grown by a huge amount since the early 70s (dh has noticed it, even in the 10 years he's been here, and it had changed massively even before that). I don't worry much about perverts and kidnappings and such. I do worry about traffic.

 

Nobody ever batted any eyelash at any of it. It was pretty normal back then. We also hung out with all the neighbourhood kids, and we all ranged all over the place, within about a 2-3 block area. I don't remember exactly how old I was when I started doing that, but I know I did it for at least a couple of years, and we moved out of there right about the time I turned eight. Actually...we used to go down to the pool at the park without an adult sometimes, too. It was about 4 blocks from our house. Most of the kids were allowed to go there, although we all had certain rules about how many people had to be in the group, and things like that. I wouldn't be able to bring myself to do that, either. But, I honestly think my parents were a lot saner than I am about these things.


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Old 02-13-2012, 12:58 PM - Thread Starter
 
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A nine year old isn't qualified to make the judgment as to whether or not other people's mental health issues or substance abuse problems make them harmful or harmless.

this is not always true. there are exceptions to the rule. just coz they are children does not mean they dont 'know'. i dont know how they 'know' but they sure 'know'.

 

some 9 year olds, heck even 2, 3 or even 4 year olds have better judgement of 'safe' people. i am not saying this is the majority but just saying sometimes we need to trust our kids and know them.

 

some like me when i was a kid and my kid has this ability to know 'unsafe' people. i have no idea how i did it, or how my dd does it. but i trust this instinct of hers. my mom would tell me even as a one year old there were some people i would not go to. i would cry and run from them. they looked 'good' in everyway - great jobs, etc. good citizens. and later they would find something was up with them (not necessarily pedophiles - but perhaps big scammers). 

 

dd is like that. which is why i trust her instincts over mine. every. single time she has been right. i would have missed many opportunities if i had gone with my instincts rather than taking a chance with her. i have been wrong, but she has been right every single time. 


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Old 02-13-2012, 11:12 PM
 
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this is not always true. there are exceptions to the rule. just coz they are children does not mean they dont 'know'. i dont know how they 'know' but they sure 'know'.

 

some 9 year olds, heck even 2, 3 or even 4 year olds have better judgement of 'safe' people. i am not saying this is the majority but just saying sometimes we need to trust our kids and know them.

 

some like me when i was a kid and my kid has this ability to know 'unsafe' people. i have no idea how i did it, or how my dd does it. but i trust this instinct of hers. my mom would tell me even as a one year old there were some people i would not go to. i would cry and run from them. they looked 'good' in everyway - great jobs, etc. good citizens. and later they would find something was up with them (not necessarily pedophiles - but perhaps big scammers). 

 

dd is like that. which is why i trust her instincts over mine. every. single time she has been right. i would have missed many opportunities if i had gone with my instincts rather than taking a chance with her. i have been wrong, but she has been right every single time. 



I don't disagree with anything you've said here.  I put a lot of stock in my own instincts, and I can look back at instances even as a child when I know that trusting my gut saved me from some bad situations.  It's great that your daughter has those kind of instincts - they will certainly serve her well in life.

 

That said, no matter how good her instincts, I would personally judge it to be parental neglect and endangerment if a parent knowingly sent their child into a situation lacking supervision knowing full well that she was going to encounter people who might be a danger to her.  It just all depends upon the situation.  We have libraries in our town that are small and family centered, where the only people coming and going are parents and children, and then we have libraries that have a much more detached staff and plenty of people who raise red flags.  Obviously, you know your own situation better than any of us do, but I just wanted to speak to the point that being aware and wary of whom she may encounter is certainly one piece of the puzzle.

 

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Old 02-14-2012, 08:16 AM - Thread Starter
 
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That said, no matter how good her instincts, I would personally judge it to be parental neglect and endangerment if a parent knowingly sent their child into a situation lacking supervision knowing full well that she was going to encounter people who might be a danger to her. 

but isnt that a chance you take all the time you leave you child alone at a public place - even at one that 'looks' safe. 

 

i am curious - at big big libraries isnt there a children's section? i know at our main branch the children's section is completely separate - on its own floor with the librarians desk at the main entrance so no 'unsafe' looking person can go down there. even at that library i wont feel unsafe leaving my dd alone - for one because i trust her not leaving the floor and second there are security guards at both entrances. in fact they have extra security at that library - esp. around the children's section too.  


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Old 02-14-2012, 12:41 PM
 
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Our libraries all have children's sections with signs saying not to leave your children unattended.  They are fine with kids browsing while you are in the same room but not fine with children being left alone in the room.  There are usually two or three librarians in the room and at least one person stocking shelves.  They don't stop people from going in though because it is a public place.  I don't think it is an issue if they say they are going to supervise your child and you are free to leave though.

 

This is a little off topic but I do want to address the idea that people who are unsafe are going to look it and that someone will just turn them away.  It is very naive to think that someone who is unsafe is going to look unsafe.  People who are unsafe do not generally look unsafe and they don't always give you a bad feeling inside.  The person who hurt me the worst as a child was a person who looked and acted very safe and caring.  Serial killers, rapists, and child molestors seem like very nice people who would never hurt anyone and at the same time they commit heinous crimes that have long lasting devastating events.  They sometimes insinuate themselves into your lives and they sometimes just snatch people in broad daylight with no one blinking an eye because they look so nice.  My mom was just telling me about a serial killer who snatched kids from front yards while neighbors who knew them just looked on because he looked so decent and like he belonged.  If an adult in the know can be fooled a librarian at a desk can be fooled just as easily.  I don't think that this is a big thing to worry about in the situation you describe, or even in general, but I truly hope you are teaching your child not to be taken in by nice looks and sweet talk when you talk to her about staying safe when she isn't around adults who are watching out for her. 

 

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Old 02-14-2012, 01:38 PM
 
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Ours has a sign saying that children younger than 6 can't be left unattended. So I guess this is different for different libraries.

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Old 02-14-2012, 05:14 PM
 
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Originally Posted by meemee View Post

but isnt that a chance you take all the time you leave you child alone at a public place - even at one that 'looks' safe. 

 

i am curious - at big big libraries isnt there a children's section? i know at our main branch the children's section is completely separate - on its own floor with the librarians desk at the main entrance so no 'unsafe' looking person can go down there. even at that library i wont feel unsafe leaving my dd alone - for one because i trust her not leaving the floor and second there are security guards at both entrances. in fact they have extra security at that library - esp. around the children's section too.  


There is risk involved anytime a child is alone in public, yes.  But the risk is dramatically increased if the child is alone in a place where people with mental illness and substance abuse problems are known to congregate.  Just because unknown risk exists in the world doesn't make it any more logical to knowingly place a child at risk.

 

As to the libraries here, all of the libraries have children's sections, but they are all also open floorplan - the children's sections are not isolated, and no one is prevented from entering them.  To be clear though, I wasn't making a suggestion one way or another about whether or not gyou should leave your child alone at the library (I think every parent has to make their own decisions there); my intention in this thread was merely to controvert the argument that a large presence of homeless people shouldn't have any bearing on a parent's decision, or is somehow irrelevant to the conversation.

 

I don't have a nine year old.  My oldest is seven.  At the moment, I'm comfortable allowing her to walk to the other end of the grocery store for a cookie from the bakery while I'm in frozen foods.  Who knows where I'll be in two years.  At the moment, I don't foresee leaving her in the library alone, but I've parented long enough to have learned not to predict how I will handle situations I haven't yet been in.

 

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Old 02-14-2012, 06:28 PM
 
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There is risk involved anytime a child is alone in public, yes.  But the risk is dramatically increased if the child is alone in a place where people with mental illness and substance abuse problems are known to congregate. 

OK substance abuse wasn't part of the original statement. Substance abuse may be linked to violence. What I said earlier, I will repeat -- people with mental illnesses are not more dangerous to your child. Someone with a mental illness is much more likely to harm themselves or be a victim than a perpetrator. It really bothers me to hear people say how dangerous it can be to be around people with mental illness. That's simply not true, and this cuts close to home because I've suffered mental illnesses, I have many close friends that have as well, I've spent a lot of time around people who are mentally ill or hospitalized, including state hospital patients (aka the worst off)... The link between violence & mental illness is a stereotype promoted by media & Hollywood.

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Old 02-14-2012, 07:03 PM - Thread Starter
 
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i am sorry but it really gets my goat when people stigmatise people with mental illness, homeless and substance abuse. 

 

the last 14 years of my life i have spent with them. and really just coz their outer self shows they are different there is such a huge bias around them. 

 

i have seen their other side and to lump them all as unsafe is grossly unfair. 

 

i have seen both sides. but just coz the guy 'looks' crazy does not mean they are crazy. in fact some of them are quite the opposite. yeah those 'crazies' do hang out at our main library but we have never had any incidence with them at the library - not once. never. 

 

yeah the problems we have downtime are the meth kids. kids. 

 

in our city there have been more homeless who have frozen to death than the number who have attacked anyone in public. 

 

because i was one of the few people who spoke to the homeless around where i lived, they were my security when i came home late. they kept an eye out for me. yes they were mentally ill, smelly badly kept and i am sure they had substance abuse. and yet they were the only people who offered to share their TG meal with me when they saw me walking down the empty street by myself on TG day. 


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Old 02-15-2012, 12:00 AM
 
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There's that word "stigmatize" again.  No one is stigmatizing ("regard as worthy of disgrace or great disapproval") the mentally ill or the homeless. I'm not campaigning disgrace OR disapproval.  I'm encouraging caution.  I also have a good deal of experience with mental illness.  I'm the daughter of a woman with borderline personality disorder and sister of two brothers with bipolar disorder, one of whom has spent substantial amounts of his life as a homeless man, and more than a year in my home.  You can be a champion for the rights and dignity of the homeless and mentally ill without being unrealistic about the level of stability they embody.

 

I am so stunned by this assertion

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Originally Posted by crunchy_mommy
 
...people with mental illnesses are not more dangerous to your child. Someone with a mental illness is much more likely to harm themselves or be a victim than a perpetrator. It really bothers me to hear people say how dangerous it can be to be around people with mental illness. That's simply not true...

 

that I had to do some digging.  The New England Journal of Medicine published a study (7000 subjects) which concluded "that patients with serious mental illness — those with schizophrenia, major depression, or bipolar disorder — were two to three times as likely as people without such an illness to be assaultive."  A separate study (of 802 adults with a psychotic or major mood disorder) showed "violence was independently correlated with several risk factors, including substance abuse, a history of having been a victim of violence, homelessness, and poor medical health."

 

Then you must consider that substance abuse among the homeless is significantly higher than among the general population. "More than half of homeless people with mental illness have a co-occurring substance abuse disorder, including addiction to marijuana, alcohol, or cocaine." (American Psychiatric Association 2011 Institute on Psychiatric Services). 

 

While these statistics obviously don't mean that all people who suffer from mental illness (or for that matter substance abuse) will be a threat, it does mean that the the risk is increased.  Knowingly putting an unsupervised child in a position of increased risk is, in my opinion, irresponsible.

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Old 02-15-2012, 12:08 AM
 
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OK substance abuse wasn't part of the original statement. Substance abuse may be linked to violence.


Substance abuse wasn't directly mentioned in your original rebuttal, but homelessness was.  Since substance abuse is present in more than 50% of homeless individuals, it was worth naming explicitly as a danger.

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Old 02-15-2012, 05:25 AM
 
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I could show you a bunch of studies stating the opposite. And a lot of the studies showing a correlation of violence studied incarcerated people -- hardly a representative sample. The study you quoted wasn't even designed to study violence, and they only correlated it with 3 specific mental illnesses, which again is not representative of mental illnesses as a whole. And even they admit that when they removed certain risk factors, potential for violence was the same among people with mental illness as the general population.

This really isn't something I can deal with debating right now, I've said my piece & I hope at least a few people 'heard' me enough to think twice before stereotyping people who are mentally ill. It's just a sad & upsetting thing to hear, but maybe I'm overly sensitive.

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Old 02-22-2012, 07:08 PM
 
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Mental illness hits close to home for most people. It is in almost everyone's family to one degree or another. I think I may have made the original post that you originally responded to and quoted. It clearly mentions that many (not all) homeless people have mental illness and/or (not necessarily both) addiction problems. It is not true that addiction was not mentioned in the post. I don't know if that will change your feelings on the post at all, but I thought I would let you know, hoping it would make you feel a bit better. I had another post after that to clarify, because I know my original post was all over the place, and I was afraid people might read it the wrong way. Both posts mention addiction and/or mental illness.

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I could show you a bunch of studies stating the opposite. And a lot of the studies showing a correlation of violence studied incarcerated people -- hardly a representative sample. The study you quoted wasn't even designed to study violence, and they only correlated it with 3 specific mental illnesses, which again is not representative of mental illnesses as a whole. And even they admit that when they removed certain risk factors, potential for violence was the same among people with mental illness as the general population.
This really isn't something I can deal with debating right now, I've said my piece & I hope at least a few people 'heard' me enough to think twice before stereotyping people who are mentally ill. It's just a sad & upsetting thing to hear, but maybe I'm overly sensitive.


 

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