before we kick off #ifn614kidschat just a point for me, I personally draw a BIG distinction between kids and teens & will argue accordingly.
I didn’t really get a chance to unpack this perspective of mine in the Twitter chat. I was fortunate in that several people were vocal in agreeing with me on the subject.
Some people might disagree. From a legal standpoint, some consider you a child until you turn 18, and treat you accordingly. I find this thinking simplistic, and ignorant of the ability for opinions to change over time. I consider myself a strong advocate of teen rights, because frankly, patronising adolescents gets us off to a rubbish start in developing relations with the generation below us. Their opinions matter, and will matter even more as the decades roll on.
But I digress.
My point here is that teenagers often have a better idea of what’s right for them than their parents do. Yes, teenagers don’t know everything. I certainly didn’t and thought I did at that age. But teenagers do know something. And when I was 16, there were definitely some things going on below the surface that I didn’t want to discuss with my family. We were in opposition on some things. Enough that it made me uncomfortable.
And I’m just a cis white girl. Imagine being trans. Or bisexual. Or not believing in Jesus in a Christian household. Imagine attempting to access the information in your own home, only to be blocked by your parents either directly or indirectly. Well what now? You have a moment of panic. How can you trust them? They’ve already made it so hard for you to answer your burning questions. Where will you go now?
The library might not be the first choice for today’s teens, but it is still an option for them. And as an act of altruistic good, I think it is a library’s responsibility to allow open access to patrons in need.
The Ontario guide to teen rights is an excellent start to outlining how teens from all walks of life can be catered to ethically. In particular, the following two points are of interest to this discussion:
1 . Intellectual freedom
The library establishes clear policy statements concerning the right to free access by young adults to library resources and information sources; and respect for the rights of young adults to select materials appropriate to their needs without censorship, the Library’s teen collection, policies and services should be consistent with the concepts of intellectual freedom defined by the CLA, OLA and Ontario Human Rights code.
6. Welcoming, respectful, supportive service at every service point.
The Library promotes friendly, positive, non-biased customer interactions with teens, providing staff development and training and ensures that services for teens embrace cultural and gender diversity and economic differences. Library staff will endeavor to respect the teen’s need for privacy and nonjudgmental service and assist young adults in acquiring the skills to effectively access all library resources and become information literate.
So what these two rights add up to is an assurance for scared or uncertain teens, that their internet access and research will not only be unfettered, but openly supported by library staff. At a time in their lives where they might be very used to closed doors, it fills me with comfort that, at least in Ontario, there is an open door.
Are there any ‘open doors’ you want to share with the learning community? Feel free to tell us about it in the comment section.