Monday, October 13, 2008

Clearly Predictable Consequences of a Stupid Law

Let's review this post from less than 2 months ago:

Nebraska has recently passed a law that allows parents to drop off "unwanted" children at local "safe havens", such as hospitals. Many states have such laws for newborns, but Nebraska's law includes all minors--up to age 19.

I follow that opening with a statement from an idiot politician who says that all children deserve the protection of the state.

OK, so let's assume you know nothing else about that law than what you read above. What do you think would be a reasonable guess about what might happen? What might be some strange consequences of that law? These, of course:

A Michigan mother drove roughly 12 hours to Omaha, so she could abandon her 13-year-old son at a hospital under the state's unique safe-haven law, Nebraska officials said Monday.

The boy from the Detroit area is the second teenager from outside Nebraska and 18th child overall abandoned in the state since the law took effect in July...

Last week, a 14-year-old girl from Iowa was left at an Omaha hospital by her grandparents. The girl has since been returned to her family...

An out-of-work widower who left nine of his 10 children said he simply felt overwhelmed by his responsibilities. That man, Gary Staton, has asked a judge to allow him to visit his children...

Lawmakers have spoken about the need to re-examine the law, but the Legislature doesn't reconvene until January.

Really? No one foresaw any these types of problems when the law lets anyone drop off any child under age 19? Really?

Yes, maybe they should re-examine that law. And their heads.


Ronnie said...

I personally don't see the problem with the law. If a parent wants to give up a child clearly the parent isn't fit to be raising a child.

Mrs. C said...

Very, very sad, Darren.

Though as the mom of three autistic kids, I can UNDERSTAND when parents get to the end of their rope and NEED HELP. But there is no help.

That's just the way it is. I believe in raising your own kids, etc. but do understand the absolute desperate frustration of some folks when things get hard. It's not something I blog about often because even on my worst day, I know I can parent better than the state. (That doesn't mean I don't do a crappy job in some ways!)

I just wanted to chime in that these folks bringing in the kids aren't the WORST ones. The worst ones don't realize they're in over their heads and abuse their children.

Darren said...

My sister has 4 kids, the youngest with cerebral palsy. I understand what it's like to feel overwhelmed.

I'm not faulting the idea of offering parents some help, I'm faulting the craziness of this law that allows anyone to just dump a kid, no questions asked. I mean, if the events AP mentioned weren't easily predictable, what events are?

mazenko said...

This ridiculous execution of a law would be absurdly funny if it weren't so, so sad.

It certainly brings the issue of unwanted pregnancies some attention as well.

Ellen K said...

It's another example of fuzzy liberalism gone awry. A better situation would be that the family has a local safety net of friends and family to help them out. I actually know a number of kids who are living with guardians rather than parents due to a range of things from parental drug abuse to incarceration. Those kids thrive in a place where someone cares. While I wouldn't oppose a program where parents could actively seek someone to take over their children during family turmoil or overwhelming situations, it is cold and callous to simply drop off a kid who knows they are being abandoned without any explanation. This goes back to a situation I ran into when my kids were younger. A girl came to Brownies happy because her mom was expecting a baby boy. She was so happy and normal. Two weeks later, the same child came telling the then eight year olds that her mother "got rid of the baby". How do you explain that to a third grader? And why would some idiot parent ever say that to a child? And therein lies the problem, too often it's not the kids that are the trouble, it's the parents. Maybe we should instead have a program where kids can drop off toxic parents.

nebraska girl said...

Supposedly the child is supposed to be in immediate danger for the parent to not be prosecuted, but I agree that the law is stupid as written. However, the number of older kids that have been dropped off shows that there isn't enough support for parents of older kids. All the programs that I know of focus on birth to kindergarten.

neko said...

As a small bit of explanation here -- this law came about because someone in the legislature was concerned that Nebraska was one of only two states without a Safe Haven law. In the rush to not be last, they decided it was better to pass one and figure out the problems later than to not have one at all. (I think the other state still beat us.)

I have heard two different stories regarding how it came to apply to anyone under eighteen:

1) Someone decided to be "progressive" by letting kids be dropped off rather than abused.

2) The law was written stated "minors" could be dropped off without a further definition to limit the description.