“Safe Haven” baby boxes: poorly placed!

Ruthie DiTucci

Child neglect and abandonment are serious issues that can have long-lasting impacts on a child’s well-being. While it’s understandable why people would be concerned about the welfare of a child in such a situation, it’s also important to understand why some might be more focused on punishing the parents than on the child’s safety.

“Safe Baby” boxes are found in all 47 U.S. states that have “safe haven” laws. Unfortunately for the infants that might be abandoned, the boxes are placed at “manned” Fire Stations, “manned” Hospital Emergency entrances or otherwise “active, highly trafficked” spots where people or authorities abound.

Data for chart above: 

† Allows a parent to relinquish an infant at an authorized place without personnel being present, as long as the parent notifies personnel of the infant's location.

* Indiana also allows a parent, guardian or custodian to leave an infant up to one year old with a hospital or medical facility.
ESP = emergency services personnel
HCP = health care provider

The primary reason abandoned babies continue to be found in perilous situations is that whoever is abandoning a baby, “does not want to be seen in the act of abandoning the infant in the baby box (or anywhere)”. And foolishly, many of these safe haven boxes have silent alarms!

One reason is that there is often a moral component to child neglect and abandonment. Society has long held the belief that parents have a responsibility to care for their children and that abandoning a baby is a breach of that responsibility. This moral outrage can make people more focused on punishing the parent than on ensuring the child’s safety.

Republished with Permission from Safe Haven Crisis Line

Another factor is religious training. Many religious traditions hold that children are gifts from God and that it is a sin to abandon or harm them. For those who have been raised with these beliefs, punishing the parent for neglect or abandonment may be seen as a way to enforce a moral code.

Finally, some may see punishing the parent as a way to impose feelings of guilt. People who abandon their babies are often seen as selfish and uncaring, and punishing them may be seen as a way to make them feel the weight of their actions.

Consider that sometimes parents don’t abandon infants because they are tired of hearing it cry or they are teenagers not willing to give up their lives to dedicate it to a helpless child. Sometimes they don’t have the mental capacity or maturity to keep the child or the money to support it.

In many cases, the best thing that person could possibly do for their child is to give it up.

Shutterstock Licensed to SyndicatedNews

If a parent were to use one of the safe haven boxes, they could easily be apprehended by whomever it is that hears the silent alarm. The alarm is alerting someone, perhaps the fire department or the local police. Either way, no one in their right mind is going to take a step towards personally incriminating him or herself if the reason they were there to begin with – was to abandon a baby.

In Florida, the baby boxes are provided by the National Safe Haven Program who have installed silent alarms in the boxes so that when one opens the box to leave a baby – the authorities are alerted.

Shutterstock Licensed to SyndicatedNews

You have to wonder for what purpose there would be an alarm to alert anyone at all. What I suspect, is that by sounding an alarm, it will alert people that will try to pressure people from abandoning the person leaving the baby who may even quote the child abandonment laws.

If not, they probably want to pressure the person dropping off a baby into feeling guilty in the same way that crowds would show up at Planned Parenthood locations for the purpose of “guilting” mothers into changing their minds about having an abortion.

Shutterstock Licensed to SyndicatedNews

Until society “makes up its mind”, whether they want to save infant lives more than they want to punish the parents for abandoning the baby – babies will continue to be left to die in the street or in the woods.

There are many reasons why people may be more focused on punishing parents for child neglect and abandonment than on the child’s safety. However, it’s important to remember that the ultimate goal should always be to ensure the well-being of the child. To do this, we must work to understand the underlying factors that contribute to child neglect and abandonment and find ways to support families in need.

If you feel burdened by a baby, rather than endangering it, consider adoption.