by Claudine Gallacher
The Shocking Incident
Maria Carmen Frandsen cannot forget what happened two weeks ago at her local public library in Auburn, Washington. Her 9 year-old son had just left her side to use a nearby restroom. As Maria Carmen sat near a table in the children’s section, her other three children (1, 4, and 7) were looking at books. It was at this moment when she happened to glance at a nearby computer directly within her view. On the screen, a man and a women were having sex while a library patron sat watching.
Maria Carmen quickly gathered her smallest children and found her 9 year-old son who immediately told her that on his way to the bathroom he had seen something “bad” on a library computer. Sickened that her son had been exposed to hardcore pornography in a place she had believed was safe, Maria Carmen appealed to the library staff for help. She wanted to ensure that no more kids came across these obscene images.
Although the librarian talked to the porn-watching patron, the patron asserted that he had a right to view legal pornography. He refused to change his behavior. The librarian apologized to Maria Carmen, explaining that unless the patron is watching child pornography (which is clearly illegal) there is nothing library staff can do. Maria Carmen talked with other librarians and got the same disturbing answer: “There is nothing we can do.”
What About Children’s Rights?
Do you think this response is good enough for a conscientious mother? We don’t either! And we’re so proud of Maria Carmen for doing something! In a letter to the Auburn Reporter, she asks, “What about our children’s rights not to be exposed to harmful material?” She wants to know why her library has rules that forbid food and bare feet, but no regulations against watching XXX movies at computers that children can easily see.
Something We CAN DO
Wherever you live, take these two steps:
- Email your library or talk to your local librarian and find out how they respond if a patron is viewing pornography on library computers. What happens if other patrons complain?
- Check out the Safe Schools Safe Libraries Project website and download their free “Getting Started” packet. You can also read about others who are working to make our libraries safe for kids. Knowledge is power!
If you live in King County Washington, do this:
- Write to the KCLS Board of Trustees (the people that create/regulate library policy) to let them know how you feel about a patron’s “right” to watch porn in the library. Here’s their address: Board of Trustees, King County Library System, 960 Newport Way NW, Issaquah, WA 98027. Or you can email them here: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you agree that children’s safety should be our first concern in public places, then please SPEAK OUT. PornProof Kids will continue to follow Maria Carmen on her journey to fight pornography in her library.
Have you ever felt your local library was unsafe for your kids? Please share your stories—together we can make a difference!