Friday, October 03, 2008

The next crisis no one is talking about

photo © Adrian van Leen for CC:PublicDomain

Older children being abandoned under the Safe Haven laws

Officials have called the abandonments a misuse of a new law that was mainly intended to prevent so-called Dumpster babies — the abandonment of newborns by young, terrified mothers — but instead has been used to hand off out-of-control teenagers or, in the case of the father of 10, to escape financial and personal despair.

The spate of abandonments has prompted an outcry about parental irresponsibility and pledges to change the state law, which allows care givers to drop off children without fear of prosecution. But it has also cast a spotlight on the hidden extent of family turmoil in the country and what many experts say is a shortage of respite care, counseling and especially psychiatric services to help parents in dire need.

Some who work with troubled children add that economic conditions, like stagnant low-end wages and the epidemic of foreclosures, may make the situation worse, adding layers of worry and conflict.

Read more at the NY Times

I promise you, we're not hearing about a third of these. Hospital personnel and CPS can't discuss it. But it wouldn't surprise me in the least to have this become the next great crisis. Granted, so far this is only affecting Nebraska, which offers Safe Haven for children up to 19, but odds are it will be happening in other states soon. Perhaps not in hospitals, but I foresee children just not being picked up at the end of the school day. Simply because their parents believe they would have a better life away from them.

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