Monday, April 22, 2024
49.0°F

MY TURN: Librarians, parents and bounty hunters, oh my!

by KARA CLARIDGE/Guest Opinion
| March 29, 2024 1:00 AM

After three years of our legislators trying to pass a bill aimed at protecting children from harmful materials in public libraries, we are down to the final hours of the session where H710 hangs in the balance. Hours of debate in the House and Senate state affairs committees reveal the difference of beliefs between those employed by or representing libraries and parents and concerned citizens. 

My testimony as a parent of five children and regular library user is that explicit materials absolutely exist and are regularly promoted to minors and coming in faster than can be identified. If you are a citizen of Kootenai County and still unsure, check out the well-documented work at cleanbooks4kids.com. 

It’s getting pretty hard to deny. It is well past time in seeing this issue fixed. For all the uproar surrounding this debate, why is passing this bill such a problem if these materials don’t exist as some still claim? 

H710 is called The Children's School and Library Protection Act. The Bill’s statement of purpose requires public schools and community libraries to take reasonable steps in restricting children's access to obscene or harmful material. A parent or guardian of a minor child who accesses such material in violation of this policy would be entitled to bring a civil action against the school or library for damages and injunctive relief. 

Material challenged would need to meet the definition of Idaho statute 18-1514 Relating to Minors.

Some detractors have been concerned this would create a path forward for people to abuse the system for monetary gain. It seems unlikely that a “bounty hunter” would go through all the work of filling out a materials review form, submitting it to the library and baby-sitting the process all to make $250.

Cd'A’s appointed library board has refused to lift a finger to address this issue after years of public comment. I think our children are worth protecting. If they won’t respond to the constituents they represent who truthfully bring forth evidence, then this piece of legislation might help encourage them to stay within the boundaries of Idaho law that applies to every other citizen. If you agree, contact the Idaho Senate at emailidaho.com to give your support.

• • •

Kara Claridge is a Coeur d'Alene resident.