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Youth Safety Policy (4.203)


This policy informs parents, guardians, caregivers, staff and volunteers of their responsibilities regarding minors’ use of the Bellingham Public Library.


Bellingham Public Library: All library facilities and library grounds.
Caregiver or guardian: Adult responsible for a minor child or youth.
Child/children: A person(s) under the age of 13.
Minor or youth: A person under the age of 18.
Teen: A person age 13 – 17.
Young adult: A person age 18 – 23.
Unaccompanied child: A child who is using the Bellingham Public Library without the supervision of a parent, guardian, or caregiver.
Library staff: Any staff member of the Bellingham Public Library.
Library volunteer: A member of the public that is cleared to work in a limited volunteer capacity with the Bellingham Public Library.
Children’s program: Program designed for children, age birth – 12, to enjoy with a parent/responsible adult.
Teen program: Program designed specifically for teens and/or young adults.
Private communications: Communications between staff and a minor that do not happen in a public forum or space. Examples include, but are not limited to phone calls, emails, text messages and instant messages.


  1. Policy application
    • This policy applies to all parents, guardians, caregivers, staff and volunteers of the Bellingham Public Library.
  2. The library welcomes use by children and teens.
    • The library provides welcoming and appropriate spaces, activities and materials for children and teens.
    • Library staff members are available to assist children, teens and families with locating and using library materials and services.
    • The library is a public building.
  3. The library provides free and engaging programs for youth.
    • Advertising for individual Children’s and Teen Programs specify ideal ages for participation and attendance. This age range is provided by staff and takes into consideration program length, content and activities.
    • For Children’s Programs, a parent/responsible adult is expected to accompany a child to each program, unless otherwise specified.
    • If parental participation is optional, it is still recommended the parent/responsible adult stay on site during the program.
    • For Teen Programs, a parent/responsible adult is not required to accompany a teen to programs.
  4. The library promotes the safety of youth in our spaces.
    • The Central Library’s Children’s Department and early learning spaces at all library locations are reserved for children and their parent/caregivers. Adults and others not appropriately using the spaces or not accompanying a minor may be asked by any member of library staff to re-locate to another area of the library.
    • The Central Library’s Teen Space is reserved for teens and their parent/caregivers. Adults and others not appropriately using the spaces or not accompanying a minor may be asked by any member of library staff to re-locate to another area of the library.
    • The library allows one-on-one activities with minors only in open and observable spaces in the library.
    • A bathroom is available in the Central Library’s Children’s Department for use by children and their parent/caregiver.
  5. Parents and caregivers are responsible for the care and behavior of their children.
    • While in a library facility or on library grounds, parents and caregivers are responsible for the care and behavior of their children. This includes behavior during library programs and events.
    • All library patrons, including children and teens, are expected to adhere to the library Rules of Conduct while in a library facility and on library grounds.
  6. Children should be accompanied at the library.
    • For the safety and comfort of children, a responsible adult or caregiver should accompany children while they are using the library.
    • Library staff cannot provide long or short-term child care.
    • Library staff will not be held responsible for incidents, accidents or other liability arising from unaccompanied children.
    • Library staff will attempt to contact the parents/guardians of an unaccompanied child if necessary, including an unaccompanied child not met by a responsible adult at closing.
    • If a parent or guardian cannot be reached, the child may be placed in the care of the Bellingham Police Department.
  7.  Library staff and library volunteers are responsible for maintaining appropriate behaviors.
    • Staff and volunteers should avoid any conduct and/or communications with children or youth that would lead any reasonable person to question their motivation and intentions.
  8. The library follows standard procedures to promote the safety of children and youth.
    • For the protection of children, youth and themselves, staff and volunteers will follow the Youth Safety Procedures, which include and address:
      • Regularly receiving youth safety training from recognized and proven child abuse prevention sources.
      • Regularly receiving reviews of this policy and the accompanying Youth Safety Procedures.
      • Prior to hire, having a background check through the Washington State Criminal Background Check as well as the National Sex Offender Registry.
      • Private communications with minors.
      • Reporting possible misconduct or harm involving a minor.
  9. Library Board of Trustees reviews this policy.
    • This policy is periodically reviewed, revised or reaffirmed by the Library Board of Trustees.


Title: 4.203 Youth Safety Policy
Code: 4 Public Services
Chapter: 4.200 Children’s Services
Type of Policy: Departmental
Date Developed: 25 June 2015
Developed by: Bethany Hoglund, Pam Kiesner
Approved by: Library Board of Trustees, 15 September 2015
Cancels: Section IV, Public Services Policies, Unattended Children

See Also:
Library policies: 4.101 Rules of Conduct
Library procedures: 4.203.101 Youth Safety Procedures