Tuesday, July 17, 2007
This post began as a comment on Redheaded Rover's post about the irresponsibility of parents who do not properly supervise their children. She mentions a recent negative experience at the movies, where she couldn't enjoy the film because she was so concerned about the welfare of some very young children who were running all over the place, unwatched by their parents. And also a sad story about a child who was abducted because her parents left her (and her 2-year-old twin siblings) alone and unsupervised in an UNLOCKED vacation apartment while they went out to dinner.
These stories, sadly, neither shock nor surprise me these days. I work in a relatively small community library, and I'm sure what happens at my library is small potatoes compared with larger libraries. But still, it is distressing to see how many parents leave their young children unattended, often for hours - and it's not as though we can really make sure they are safe. I'm not always at my desk - I'm often in the stacks helping people. Then there are the parents who sit at the Internet station for two or three hours - seriously - while their little children, bored out of their skulls, are strapped in strollers or wandering around on their own, completely unsupervised. Anyone could easily walk off with these kids; who knows how long it would be before the parent noticed?
I'd feel more sympathy for these Internet parents if they were working on resumes or searching for jobs or apartments or something. But they are playing computer games, doing Internet quizzes, looking at celebrity and fashion websites. And they come almost every night. One little boy often comes over to the reference desk to show me a drawing he's made on scrap paper, or ask me to find a book for him. He is clearly yearning for attention, and I do what I can, but often I'm busy and there's not much I can do. He sits and reads books, and at the end of the night he always begs his mother to let him check one out. I know she has a library card - she uses it to get on the Internet. But she never lets him check out a book. Tonight he cried because he wanted one so badly - it was heartbreaking when she dragged him out, after he'd sat there so quietly for such a long time - she wouldn't even take the book and read it to him at home.
It is sad and frustrating.