The state of Nebraska expanded its “safe-haven” law, permitting parents to abandon their children without legal consequences. Parents can drop off their child, under the age of 18, at a specific location, without any questions asked. The child then becomes the responsibility of the state.
Hospitals, police stations, fire houses and rescue squads are generally the drop off points.
Other states have similar laws for protecting infants from abandonment. However, in July 2008, Nebraska extended this law to cover teenagers as well. Now parents in other states are traveling to Nebraska to drop off their teenagers.
A parent of ten children turned over nine of them. He told Omaha’s KETV: “I didn’t think I could do it alone. I fell apart.”
Some parents report being stressed and unable to deal with their teenagers, finding this their solution to the problem, hoping the systems in place through the states implementation will bring their children under control.
Critics of “safe-haven” claim that parents can not only leave children for extreme circumstances or criminal behavior, but for merely misbehaving.
Adam Pertman, the executive director of a New York adoption institute told Associated Press: “Whether the kid is disabled or unruly or just being a hormonal teenager, the state is saying: ‘Hey, we have a really easy option for you.’”
State Sen. Arnie Stuthman, who supports the law, said, “The main interest I have is that it gives the mother or parent another option of what to do with a child before they do something drastic” (ibid.).
In the coming weeks, the state government plans to revisit this law. Many hope that the “loophole that led to the dumping of older kids” will be fixed (ibid.).