“Your impulse is to give teens cash, food, a ride, a place to stay…”
– and –
“Teens want to say hello by hugging you.”
Both of these questions are about extending beyond your allowable reach as a teen services librarian. You grow attached to the teens in your library, you know what is going on in parts of their lives, and genuinely want to help them and see that they are safe and successful. But there are reasons that rules are there, and following those rules will prevent issues in the future, without hindering your ability to help your young adult patrons. There are very clear and creative ways in which you are there to help your patrons, and putting your best effort in to that will go a long way with most young adults. Be clear and consistent with your boundaries – so that boundary-pushing doesn’t happen more than once with a teen – and explain that it’s the rule, if that helps.
If your teen patrons are in serious trouble or an unsafe situation, there are usually rules for extreme cases that allow you and the library to help – likely reaching out to someone else to make sure they get proper assistance. When that time comes, know your library system’s rules (or have quick access to them), and figure out what can be done to take care of the situation within your “jurisdiction.” Teens will know you are trying to help them, and if you are unsure about that – tell them.
Velásquez, J. (2015). Real-world teen services. Chicago: ALA editions.