Monday, November 17, 2008

Bad kid? Don't get stuck. Act now!

I told you so.

I told you there'd be the biggest land rush to Nebraska since the Homestead Act -- this one by parents with dysfunctional teens and tykes in tow -- once the governor announced a special session to fix the state's latest foray into the jungle of unintended consequences, otherwise known as the state's "safe haven" law.

AND NOW look at what the Omaha World-Herald has found. I'm so surprised:
The pace of safe haven drop-offs nearly doubled after the announcement of the special legislative session to limit the law to infants, a World-Herald analysis shows.

Nebraska's unique safe haven law was intended to let mothers leave babies at hospitals without being prosecuted for child abandonment, but the law did not specify an age limit for children.

In the last two months, 25 parents and guardians have dropped off 34 children at hospitals - none of them newborns. Most were ages 11 to 17, many with psychiatric and behavioral disorders.

Since the law was used for the first time Sept. 13, parents and guardians dropped off children once nearly every three days.

The number of children - including several brought from other states - prompted Gov. Dave Heineman on Oct. 29 to announce an emergency session of the Legislature specifically to set an age limit.

Since Oct. 29, the pace has jumped to one new case every day and a half.

No children have been dropped off since the Legislature went into session Friday, even though the law remains in effect until revisions are passed when the session ends this Friday.

A proposal introduced at Heineman's request would limit the safe haven provision to babies no older than 72 hours.

Another proposal to create a system for older children gets a public hearing today, even though the Nebraska attorney general issued an opinion Sunday that the bill falls outside the limited purpose designated for the special session.

I WONDER WHAT will turn out to have been worse -- overmatched or neglectful parents dumping their broken kids on the state of Nebraska . . . or their no longer dumping their broken kids on the state of Nebraska?

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