16 October 2008

Here's Half the Story.

I'm not sure how wise it was for Nebraska to pass a law allowing parents to drop off their children and relinquish care of them at any point until they're 18. Sure, it might prevent some child abuse in theory. Tough to tell. There are also some stories about concerning parents of older children dropping them off and leaving. But what is the point of a safe haven law? Is it to encourage parents to drop off their children before they do the unthinkable and kill them? I thought it was.

And yet...

Here's a story of a mom who drops off her older kid. OK, so she's not the greatest mom of the day and all that. But now they're looking into taking her other children away? When she lives a day's drive away? And it's supposed to be a "safe haven" sort of situation?

Um...

That hardly seems fair.

I'm not about to defend the mom because I'm not sure exactly what she did or what the circumstances were that led her to drop off JUST this one kid. Could he have had a mental disorder or drug problem and parents are just not sure what to do? Could he have been destructive or abusive to other family members? The article doesn't say. I hardly think that the kid just got sassy and didn't clean his room that night.

I think that if the state starts prosecuting these parents, it won't be long before word gets out and people stop bringing their children when they've reached the end of their rope. And that defeats the object of the law in the first place.

It drives me crazy when news stories leave tons of facts one needs to know to make some sort of objective opinion up about an issue. We also don't know if the boy came in with horrible tales of being tortured by his parents.

We just don't know.

Aargh. Why even print this stuff? Because it's interesting to read half the story, make the other half up in your brain without realizing it, and come away thinking that you're an informed reader? What is up with this reporter and editor? Couldn't they at least say they *asked* whether the child had emotional or substance problems and were met with "no comment?" Or that they *asked* whether the child gave investigators a harrowing epic about his life at home?

Bleh. Stupid news stories. Maybe I should just make up the news and print that. You know, I think I'd at least make some plausible lies. I'd get all the "facts" in there and won't leave you wondering. I know how to ask all the salient questions of my imaginary characters.

You know, waaay way back in the very old days when we manually counted out headlines in setting copy (oh! and we actually SET copy, as in pasting those little stories down), I was taught the mantra, "When in doubt, leave it out." I think this whole story could have been left out. There are just too many gaps. Or the news story could have simply said that "a boy was dropped off from out of state and authorities were considering taking the other children in the family. No word on what the difficulties were that led to his relinquishment."

7 comments:

  1. That sort of 'news story' drives me completely batty. I think that's probably why it's called a teaser.
    Cheers

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  2. This makes me batty. What if this boy was somehow abusing the other siblings? You don;t know the whole story, no you as in You, but, as in the people taking these other kids away. I would hate to think I would give up one of my children, but, when others could be in danger...it's a tough call.

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  3. Almost every state in the nation has a "safe haven" kind of law. They were never really intended for dropping off troubled teens. They were meant to allow women who had infants who felt they couldn't keep the child for whatever reason to drop them off at a hospital instead of leaving them in a field/trash can to die of exposure and starvation.

    Nebraska's law is unique:

    This was never the intent of the bill," says Republican state Sen. Arnie Stuthman. He says he co-wrote it to protect newborns from abandonment, but to get enough support for passage, it was changed to cover all children.

    "We really opened a can of worms," he says. "We have a mess." He says the law needs to be fixed.


    Nebraska 'safe haven' law for kids has unintended results

    It is my opinion that all of these laws are bad, dumb, not good laws. Let's face it; women have always had more choices when faced with a child she feels unprepared to parent than allowing the child to die of exposure/starvation or raise the child all by themselves. We should have just prosecuted anyone caught doing this. But, we are a nation that want to view criminals as victims.

    When I read the stories of these teenagers (most of whom were dropped off because of behavioral problems -- I know at least one has fetal alcohol syndrome) my heart breaks. I think it is terrible for a parent to walk out on their struggling kids. But, the tale is no less sad or tragic when it happens to an infant. Because here is the truth... that infant is going to become an adult adoptee. No one should have their story be that their mother dropped them of anonymously at a hospital somewhere and walked away. And, for the mother... abandonment is a permanent solution to a problem that may well have other solutions. She may be able to parent the child herself and just need help in finding resources. She may feel she needs to place the child for adoption. When a mother places a child for adoption, she is supposed to receive counseling and support. She may opt to create an adoption plan that allows her to have continued contact with a child. For sure the adoptee will have access to more information about his or her past.

    I say... get rid of all safe haven laws in all states.

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  4. I agree about news stories that do not tell the whole story and leave out crucial gaps.

    I recall a few weeks ago a story, not sure the state, where a father left his kids at a safe haven, he was still despondent over their mothers death and lost his job. I wonder what the outcome was?

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  5. Half a story is usually right! I have had inside details on a couple of news stories and I am amazed how often important details are missing, or worse, completely wrong. It drives me crazy and I do not trust the media to get anything write!

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  6. seems all the news wants to do these days is rile people up - and many people fall into the trap

    you should send this post to that newspaper. they need to know that some people are paying attention

    and maybe some will become many

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  7. Yeah...that despondent guy had nine kids and was completely overwhelmed. That was here in Nebraska, too. It is all over the news here with constant commentary and updates on how many children are being abandoned at hospitals.

    The main push at the moment is to change the law back to the original intent so only infants are dropped off. I think I agree with Julie on this one, but in the meantime, what is "safe haven" supposed to mean if you are prosecuted afterward? Officials have made clear that the story is not over on any of these cases and that each will be pursued.

    Suddenly it sounds more like a trap set by the state than any attempt to really help anyone.

    It is like a case I had to work with that really ticked me off. The mother was struggling, losing her apartment, on drugs and had two kids. She didn't want them to have to live in the shelter with her, so she called Social Services.

    Not quite two years later, after counseling, drug treatment and never missing visits with her children, she was ready to take her kids back and the state put hurdle after hurdle in her way. But isn't that the ideal situation and what the system is supposedly meant for? A place to go for help? To keep your children safe? To assist you in getting the resources you need to deal with your problems?

    And when you do everything "right" (except obviously messing your life up in the first place), you have a rougher time getting your kids back than people who have not been showing up for meetings, court dates, visits and continue to resist any attempt at helping them throughout the entire process?

    The state is messed up.

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Non-troll comments always welcome! :)