Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Nebraska No Longer a Safe Haven: What to Do with the Kids Now?

Ok tooting my own horn, and once again promoting a post I wrote for Global Comment.

Nebraska was the last state to institute a safe haven law. The original intent of this law was to stop mothers from leaving their newborn infants in dumpsters, if they decided they did not want them, or for some reason could not care for them. The legislature could not decide on an appropriate age limit; and therefore employed the word “child.” This meant that any child under the age of 18 could be left at a Nebraska hospital, and the parent could not be charged with abandonment by law.

Now the law has been changed and an age limit of 30 days has been introduced.

The full text of LB 157 read: “No person shall be prosecuted for any crime based solely upon the act of leaving a child in the custody of an employee on duty at a hospital licensed by the State of Nebraska. The hospital shall promptly contact appropriate authorities to take custody of the child.”

In the lifetime of this law 27 drop offs occurred and 36 children were given up by their parents. Parents drove from as far away as California to relinquish their parental rights. One man left all 9 of his children behind.

According to USA Today, Todd Landry of Nebraska’s Department of Health and Human Services stated that, “the four oldest of the nine siblings were placed together in an emergency shelter and the others in a foster home. They’re struggling to varying degrees with what’s happened to them.”

To be abandoned by a parent can be an extremely traumatic thing for a child. In this case many of the children were of an age that they could understand exactly what the parent was doing even as it was happening. One can only imagine the pleading of the child, and the promises they must have made about behavioural changes as the parents headed toward the hospital exit.

Finish reading here.

3 comments:

julie said...

This is an improvement. But, I think they should have said up to 2 years of age though to protect the ones that cannot take care of themselves.

When I was a teen, some children came home to letters from their parents. The parents were gone and the state stepped in. They didn't have as much foster care back then so the children where placed in youth prisons.

People don't seem to like fostering in teenagers as they do young children and babies. I think this law was about, "What can the hospitals do?"

Nic said...

Excellent, article, just saw this one thing: "Schools do what they can to alleviate some of the strain, but with one teacher to 20-25 kids, only so much can be done."

!!!I want to know where that school is! I'm a teacher in NYC and we have third grade classrooms with one teacher and 35 kids in it.

Anonymous said...

Safe haven laws are awesome! A woman can have a baby and abandon it with no legal consequences and the father has no say, but if the woman keeps the child, the man is legally bound to support it.

Cheers for equality and promoting respoonsibility for young women. Right on!!