October 24, 2012

Today’s Hot Topic: Porn At The Local Library?


A nanny-led petition raises the issue of adults watching inappropriate videos in places where children might see them.

By Whitney C. Harris


Let me begin this post with a long and dramatic ewwwwww.

Public porn perusal. It’s something that I’ve, shockingly, seen people doing almost everywhere–on planes, on trains…but never in a library! Which is exactly what happened to one local nanny recently. The caregiver was at the Clinton Hill Library with an 11-month-old girl she looks after when she happened to see an adult man watching a graphic pornography video.

Shocked, and wanting to protect the surrounding children, the woman told a librarian–whose response was that the man was allowed to watch the material because of the First Amendment. Had he been watching an illegal film or child pornography, he wouldn’t have been protected by the law. Unfortunately, the man’s taste seems to have been of a dirty, yet legal variety.

So, what do you do when you live in a big, crowded city with iPads and iPhones and laptops galore, and your young child stumbles upon someone doing something very inappropriate? As a parent, do you say something to the offender? Do you ignore it? Or do you explain the situation to your child and use it as a teachable moment?

I’m a big proponent of taking matters into my hands. In this exact situation, I imagine that I would have walked up to the man and asked if he could do his viewing in a more adult section of the library, or somewhere nobody frequents–like the microfiche room. (Perhaps a little public embarrassment would have discouraged him from staying put.) Then, I would have explained to my kid that the man was doing something that can be confusing or distracting for some people, and I didn’t want him to disrupt the calm library environment for all of the children.

What would you do?

Either way, the nanny has started a petition on change.org and I urge you to consider signing it. This woman is trying to make one small part our city safer and more child-friendly, and I think we should support her in that effort.

Now who’s ready for storytime?

Whitney C. Harris is Deputy Editor of New York Family. She can be reached at wharris@manhattanmedia.com

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