Noticeable difference after child safety policy implemented, says Shrewsbury library director

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Noticeable difference after child safety policy implemented, says Shrewsbury library director
Shrewsbury Public Library is located at 609 Main Street. (Photo/Bill Gilman)

SHREWSBURY – In June, the Board of Library Trustees changed the policy regarding unaccompanied children at the library. 

Six months later, the new policy appears to be working, Shrewsbury Public Library Director Priya Rathnam said. 

“I’m happy to report that the revised child safety policy has definitely had an effect. Fifth- and sixth-grade students… generally seem aware that they need supervision to visit the library after school, so we’ve seen a sharp decrease in the number of unaccompanied lower-middle-schoolers coming to the library,” Rathnam told the Community Advocate.

She continued, “Fifth- and sixth-grade students who arrive unaccompanied and were previously unaware of the policy have taken it in stride when we explain the new policy and ask them to come back with a parent.”

RELATED CONTENT: Shrewsbury Public Library changes child safety policy following behavioral issues

The original June policy change was meant to curb bad behavior from unruly middle-school students who walked to the library from Sherwood Middle School and Oak Middle School on Fridays and professional-development days. Over the years, there were several reports of middle-school students behaving inappropriately, disrupting library patrons and damaging library property.

Rathnam said that the library still provides activities – like movies and crafts – meant to engage children who come to the library. Rathnam also mentioned that school-issued photo identification cards have helped the library enforce the policy.

The new policy states that fifth- and sixth-grade students must be accompanied and supervised by someone 15 years of age or older when visiting the library. Unaccompanied fifth- and sixth-graders arriving at the library will be asked to call their parents and will not be able to stay at the library. Seventh- and eighth-grade students may stay at the library unaccompanied for two hours. 

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