Minow: Curtis, at the Oregon Library Association Legal Ease pre-conference, you mentioned that Oregon has a law that applies to unattended children left in a public libraries. Could you tell us more about it?
Kiefer: Six years ago when we were reviewing our code of conduct for the library, we were going through a period when many young children were being left at the library for extended periods (4-8 hours) or not being picked up at library closing time. As we often do, we look at what Oregon law has to say on a particular issue, write our policy and have it reviewed by our City Attorney. We found that the statute cited below could be applied to libraries.
Minow: Is there a specific age that the law applies to?
Kiefer: I am including the language in the Oregon Revised Statutes (2005) that addresses age.
163.545 Child neglect in the second degree.
(1) A person having custody or control of a child under 10 years of age commits the crime of child neglect in the second degree if, with criminal negligence, the person leaves the child unattended in or at any place for such period of time as may be likely to endanger the health or welfare of such child.
(2) Child neglect in the second degree is a Class A misdemeanor. [1971 c.743 §174; 1991 c.832 §2]
So far we have invoked this once when a father loudly announced to his young daughter that he was leaving because she wouldn't get off an educational software computer. He left, we called the home where the mother responded with, "Oh he does that," and then we called the police. Once the police became involved (I believe he received a citation) he threatened to sue the library. Once legal counsel was consulted he found that he didn't have a case. That was the last we heard of the incident.