For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. ---Ephesians 6:12

"The age of casual Catholicism is over; the age of heroic Catholicism has begun. We can no longer be Catholics by accident, but instead must be Catholics by CONVICTION." ---Fr. Terrence Henry TOR, Franciscan University of Steubenville

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Safe Haven Laws Encourage Child Abandonment

I had heard of Safe Haven laws, but assumed they only applied to illegal aliens ducking the long arm of the law. Now I see there are Safe Haven laws in several states, which were written with the best of intentions, to protect unwanted newborn babies from being dumped just anywhere and left to die. Instead, designated hospitals have been certified safe havens where children, in some cases up to 17 years, can be legally abandoned. There are to be no questions asked and no repercussions for the abandonment, unless physical abuse is apparent.

The reality of the situation in Nebraska, the last state to adopt such a law, is that children between the ages of 10-17 make up the bulk of the abandonments for reasons not limited to incurable disease, mental retardation, or unruly misbehavior. And it's all done with impunity. How surprising that only three dozen children have been far. The Nebraska legislature met Friday to repair the law---one bill limits the age for dumping at safe haven hospitals at three days old while the other bill sets the age cut off at 15 years. The final bill could be ready for the governor to sign as early as November 21st. The law would go into effect immediately, but until then some are even crossing state lines into Nebraska to take advantage of the old law before the changes take effect. A sharp increase in abandonments is expected before passage of the bill into law.

Some sort of safe haven law for unwanted newborns is probably a good idea,...sometimes. You don't want to read about newborn babies abandoned in dumpsters, certainly. But then you also don't want to have laws that encourage reneging responsibility of parenting by making abandonment so temptingly easy, either.

The fact that parents are dumping their teenagers would suggest that for one reason, or perhaps several reasons, parents are giving up on raising them merely out of frustration. And the frustration is no secret to anyone who has recently spent any amount of time with parents of teenagers. Parents are simply not allowed to discipline their children anymore. The government has gradually encroached upon how our children are raised for several years. First they made it a crime for teachers to spank children, and then later it was outlawed for parents to do the same. In most states a parent who takes a screaming child out of Walmart into the parking lot to apply a little corporal punishment can be and have been hauled into court for child abuse. As a result, most parents of children under 10 or so take the kids home and apply such attitude-adjustment methods behind closed doors. But when the children get older they learn that they have the power to misbehave without consequences, and that the government will protect them from receiving anything worse than a grounding without car privileges. As a result, teenagers run wild and get involved with gangs, drugs, and in the case of girls, prostitution. Any legal consequences ($$$$) the children find themselves facing for such behavior is then leveled at the parents, who sometimes wind up facing civil lawsuits or even criminal charges. Sometimes I wonder why tens of thousands of parents aren't dumping their kids at safe havens.

Of course the best way to avoid many of those problems is to attend church regularly and take (or drag if necessary) your kids with you. Although not every church-going family is immune from strife, keeping God in the works goes a long way toward harmony and stability during those nasty, awful teenage years. A family that prays together, stays together... as it has been said many times.


Paul said...

Matt, I'm sorry, but I don't that it's the "anti-spanking" rule that's causing the breakdown in parental discipline. (And I speak as a father of four, ang grandfather of ten.) IMHO, it's the historical imposition of the "Benjamin Spock" rules, and the continuing evolution of the "I don't give a damn" parental generation. As a society, we might be better off if all these lunatic parents

dropped off their kids, who
desrve better, did so after all.

God bless and save us all.

Matt said...

It was 2am before I finished this post. And I wanted to draw more attention to church attendance than I did. I think a sense of spiritual community, severely lacking in much of today's youth, is essential in harmonious relationships between parents and teenagers. While it still doesn't make the situation perfect, it at least makes it bearable.

And I agree that Spock's philosophy had much to do with encouraging the sparing of the rod, leading to a generation of spoiled, softened, and in some cases even effeminate children. But not having studied Spock that closely, I could not connect him with the abandonment of responsibility attitude running rampant in society today.

Thanks for your contribution.