Nebraska recently became the first state to permit the abandonment of anyone under 19 years of age, despite speculation that such a law might encourage anyone with an unruly or disabled child to simply leave them at a safe haven. It looks like those fears have been justified.
Last month, 15 older children in Nebraska were dropped off at safe-haven spots after their parents or guardians deemed them unmanageable, according to the New York Times.
One mother left her 14-year-old son, two more boys and one girl, ages 11 to 15, were abandoned in hospitals and, a single father surrendered nine of his 10 children, ages 1 to 17, saying that his wife had died and he couldn't raise them alone. Sadly, the list goes on. To see what lawmakers have to say about the trend, read more.
Officials are calling the child surrenders a "misuse" of a new law that was intended to prevent the abandonment of infants (usually by teenage mothers), but is actually being used as a way to get rid of difficult teenagers or older children that are straining financially strapped or overwhelmed families. It is believed that a shortage of short-term care, counseling, and psychiatric services has led to families feeling like they have no other choice. Nationwide, more than 2,000 babies have been turned over since Texas enacted the first safe-haven law in 1999, according to the National Safe Haven Alliance in Virginia.