Law of Unintended Consequences

by duncanr

Each year, for a variety of reasons, a lot of kids are mistreated or abandoned by their parents.

To address this problem, Nebraska introduced a law in 2008 that decriminalised child abandonment. The aim was to reduce the rate of infanticide in the state by allowing parents who couldn’t cope with the responsibility of bringing up a child to drop their babies off at designated ‘safe havens’ without fear of any legal consequences.

The act was well-intentioned, and has proved popular. There is just one thing wrong with it. When passing the law, the legislators forgot to . . . specify an upper age limit for those children parents wanted to abandon.

Within weeks of the law coming into effect, 36 kids (22 of whom were teenagers) had been handed in (abandoned) by their parents – one woman drove 1200 miles from California to abandon her 14yr old son (Jeez, if they had brought in this law when my two were teenagers, I would have happily bought them one-way tickets to Nebraska!). To the disappointment of many parents, the law was hastily amended to rectify this oversight (should have moved quicker, folks !)

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