Latchkey Children in Libraries: Legal Focus

Mary Minow


Reported Court Cases


Note: Woman arrested for child neglect when she left her twin 2 1/2-year-old daughters and an 8-month-old son at the Virginia Beach Public Library. For more details, search under "Roszina Mack" in 2001 and 2000

Local Ordinances and Directives

City of San Marino, (CA) Ordinance No. 099-1129 amending Section 14.08 of Article 8 of Chapter XIV of the City Code. Resolution No R99-3, passed unanimously, approved and adopted 10 February, 1999.

Virginia Beach (VA) City Administrative Directive 3.10 Unattended Children in Libraries and Recreation Centers. This five page highly detailed directive instructs library staff how to handle unattended children during open hours and after closing. See

Unattended Children Policies (samples)

San Marino (CA) Public Library Youth Policies

Virginia Beach (VA) Public Library Parents’ FAQ

more at


Mary Minow, Libraries, Latchkey Children and the Law, California Libraries, June 2000 (Vol. 10 No. 6) at

Selected California Laws

Available at

California Civil Code § 1714 (a) Every one is responsible, not only for the result of his

willful acts, but also for an injury occasioned to another by his want of ordinary care or skill in the management of his property or person, except so far as the latter has, willfully or by want of ordinary care, brought the injury upon himself. The extent of liability in such cases is defined by the Title on Compensatory Relief.

California Penal Code § 271 Every parent of any child under the age of 14 years, and every person to whom any such child has been confided for nurture, or education, who deserts such child in any place whatever with intent to abandon it, is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison or in the county jail not exceeding one year or by fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000) or by both.

California Penal Code § 273a. (b) Any person who, under circumstances or conditions other than those likely to produce great bodily harm or death, willfully causes or permits any child to suffer, or inflicts thereon unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering, or having the care or custody of any child, willfully causes or permits the person or health of that child to be injured, or willfully causes or permits that child to be placed in a situation where his or her person or health may be endangered, is guilty of a misdemeanor.

Laws on Child Neglect, Abuse

Child Abuse and Neglect State Statutes Series: California

National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information

Susan K. Smith, Attorney at Law. Mandatory Reporting of Child Abuse and Neglect

Links to current law in all 50 states


Child Protective Services Hotline

Or call (800) 422-4453 (National Child Abuse Hotline) and ask for the telephone number of the "Child Protective Services" Hotline in your county.

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