EUCLID, OH (WOIO) - The Euclid Public Library started a new afternoon youth chaperone program Wednesday as a result of what library officials described as a sharp increase in disruptive behavior.
Kacie Armstrong, the director of the library, said while they know that not every teen was involved in disruptive behavior, the library staff felt like they needed to act because they were concerned about the more dangerous behaviors they've seen as of late.
"Really the fights and we have been really disturbed and very concerned about the number of fights," said Armstrong. "Why the students are fighting we're not really sure but we know that the behavior isn't safe and they're fighting in spaces where other library patrons are trying to use the library."
Armstrong said that they studied when the disruptions happen, and they seem to consistently be on school days between 1:30 and 4 p.m., which inspired the chaperone time frame.
"We are hoping that the problems will not occur after four o'clock. We have not had any issues to date after four o'clock. We have normal issues but nothing major so we were hoping that the issues that were occurring between 1:30 and 4 won't trend into five o'clock or so," said Armstrong.
Cleveland 19 did request statistics for the number of fights and other incidents that the police department has responded to over the past year but has not yet received that information. A police officer with the department said that they have seen incidents both inside and outside the library including unruly behavior, violence and thefts.
The library stated on its website that they've seen: "Multiple harmful incidents involving youth, including fights, vandalism, assaults on police officers, and inappropriate computer usage. This kind of behavior is unacceptable and will not be tolerated."
The posting states that the library understands that some kids may be more mature than others, but the library has to take measures to ensure the safety of everyone.
Police officers were on hand in front of and inside the library Wednesday to make sure the kids who were not allowed in followed the new rule without incident.
Cleveland 19 talked to two teens who were turned away. One said they thought it was crazy.
"Most of us come to the library after school and wait for our ride," said another. "So, I feel like they ruined our opportunity to wait for our parents and you know people have to work so nobody is going to be with us."
There are exceptions to the rule. Armstrong pointed out that parents can call to reserve a spot for their teen in an after school program.
The following is a statement on the library's website:
"The library will continue to offer programs for children and teens during the limited access time. Unattended students or parents must call (216) 261-5300 to pre-register. Once the program is at capacity, the library will no longer take reservations. Those participating in a program can enter the building fifteen (15) minutes before the program starts. Unattended students registered for the impACT the 216 ACT Prep tutoring program may enter the library to participate in tutoring."
There will also be meetings to hear community feedback about the changes:
March 6th - 8:30 a.m., 2:00 p.m., and 6:30 p.m.
March 14th - 8:30 a.m.
March 8th - 8:30 a.m.
March 20th - 6:30 p.m.
March 9th - 2:00 p.m.