Nebraska has a new bill, the LB 157, which recently went into effect this month. LB 157 is a Safe Haven law. A Safe Haven law means a parent can leave a child at any emergency room declaring their parental rights is terminated with out consequences, provided the child be in imminent danger of injury or death. However, Nebraska�s new law is different from other state safe haven laws. In Nebraska, the safe haven law is not only newborn or infants, but covers children through age 19.
The law designed to protect newborn infants from overwhelmed mothers who cannot safely care for their babies, has failed. The new Safe Haven law in Nebraska has turned into a bureaucratic nightmare, as children of all ages are finding themselves abandoned in emergency rooms across the city. The law when written did not intend to allow parent to abandon older children due to behavior problems, only if unable to provide them proper care leaving or if they are in immediate danger.
Since it�s inception at the beginning of the month fifteen children have been left in emergency rooms in Omaha. From September 13-20, 3 children ages 11, 13, and 15 were surrendered to the state. Then on the 24th, parents surrendered eleven children at area hospitals. Nine children were from the same family, when a bereaved spouse and father brought them and their birth certificates to the same hospital he lost his wife of 17 years earlier in the year. The man claims to be overwhelmed and unable to care for the nine children since the death of his wife.
Only one child a female was under the age of six, she was one year old. The rest of the children have been 6-9 years old or 11-17years old. The law, which lawmakers thought they were targeting children 5 and under has a loophole. The wording of the law is vague, providing a loophole. The Governor of Nebraska, Dave Heinemann, is calling for clarification of the law. The governor is asking parents who need help with children who are out of control to seek outside help from the state prior to abandoning children for issues other than immediate danger.
Parents abandoning unruly children will receive parental education classes to help parents explore community resources. If a parent refuses to take a child back, or if the situation warrants parents may be required to pay child support to the state to assist covering the cost of raising their child. Children will live with a lifetime of affects from abandonment at an older age by a parent. As a mother, I can never imagine leaving my child for any reason. Someone said anyone can be a parent, yet only a few are truly qualified to be a mom or dad.
What do you think about Nebraska�s Safe Haven law? Visit the Missing and Exploited Children forum and voice your thoughts on the safe haven law.
Have a blessed day!