Nebraska, like Florida, has a Safe Haven law which allows mothers who are at their wits end caring for a newborn to drop the babies off in a safe place. The laws are in place to prevent so-called Dumpster babies from being left in garbage bins -- or worse.
But the folks in Nebraska have been using the law a little differently. Since Sept. 1, a total of 15 teens and tweens -- including nine children from a single father -- have been left at hospitals and police stations, according to the New York Times.
The law does cover children up to age 19, so now there are calls to revamp it to prevent lazy parents from dumping unruly teenagers. Before we all get too judgmental, though, consider that Mark Courtney, an expert on child welfare at the University of Washington, told the NYT that what happened in Nebraska could happen in any state: “These days there’s a huge void in services for helping distressed families."
Dropping off these kids before anyone gets hurt is probably better than some of the alternatives. Let's hope Nebraska's lawmakers will find a way to close the Dumpster while still keeping the safety net.
-- Sherry Robinson