Several teenagers and pre-teens left by families at Nebraska hospitals over the past several weeks are mentally ill or have severe behavioral problems, according to the Omaha World-Herald.
The newspaper reports today that families sought help for these violent or out-of-control kids, unsuccessfully.
— A 15-year-old boy who would punch holes in the wall at home and throw things in school. His father is described in court records as “psychotic and a drug user who had been convicted of misdemeanor child abuse,” the World-Herald reports.
The boy was living with an aunt; when she tried calling a statewide human services hotline “she got no useful information,” the newspaper said. Separately, officials with Nebraska’s child welfare division told the aunt the state couldn’t intervene unless the boy committed a crime.
— A 13-year-old girl who’d been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, fetal alcohol syndrome, and severe behavioral problems. She was prone to fly into rages and and had been living at Boys Town until her great aunt removed her at the beginning of the summer, concerned that the girl was being medicated too heavily.
After the girl smeared her menstrual blood on the walls of her house, the “aunt called agencies for help but said she could not find a program,” the World-Herald reports. When the girl tried to jump out of a moving car, her great aunt took her to a hospital and asked for help.
“I can’t do nothing for her anymore. It’s too dangerous,” she told the Omaha newspaper.
— A 15-year-old boy who’d been diagnosed with depression and using drugs. Over the summer, the boy had been found carrying marijuana and had run away from home before entering a diversion program. When police brought him back, he reportedly began to express suicidical intentions.
His uncle, the boy’s guardian, took him to an Omaha hospital for a psychiatric evaluation, but the hospital refused to admit the teeanger when he said he wasn’t suicidal.
“Fearing for his life, that’s when I made the decision that I made,” said the uncle, who then turned the teenager in under Nebraska’s new “safe haven” law, according to the World-Herald.
— An 11-year-old boy who’d threatened to kill his mother and siblings. The World-Herald reports that the mom arranged for the boy to be admitted to a psychiatric hospital but that he refused to take his medications.
“She has exhausted all of her options,” according to a police report cited by the World-Herald.
Under Nebraska’s new “safe haven” law — the last in the nation — seven teens have been dropped off at hospitals over the past several weeks by parents or guardians. The Nebraska law is the only in the U.S. that doesn’t set an age limit on children who can be handed over to authorities, no questions asked.
In Nebraska, the debate now centers around the adequacy of services for families with troubled kids. A lack of resources prevents families from receiving needed help, advocates claim in another story published by the Omaha World-Herald today.
“There’s not enough places to turn,” said Eve Bleyhl, executive director of the Nebraska Family Support Network, quoted in the paper.
Nebraska human services officials dispute that allegation. According to the World-Herald, the director of the state’s department of health and human services said a review of cases “had not turned up problems with the state’s system for responding to families in crisis.”
The case that’s received the most attention involves a father who deposited 9 of his 10 children, ages 1 to 17, at an Omaha hospital. It’s not clear from news reports if any of the children were seriously disturbed.
This is an issue that is resonating with people across the country. Many of you responded to my Friday post, and it appears many of you think the dad who relinquished responsibility for his nine kids did the right thing, especially if the alternative was abuse and neglect.
Unfortunately, we still don’t know a lot about what happened in this particular case.
Did the father call family members and ask for their support? Did he call service agencies and admit that he needed help? Did the children have any advance warning? Or were they caught by surprise, faced with losing their home and their sole remaining parent after their mother died suddenly a year and a half before?
Nebraska lawmakers will now consider whether the state’s new law needs to be changed to narrow its scope to babies and infants, the World-Herald reports.http://newsblogs.chicagotribune.com/triage/2008/09/children-left-a.html
The safe haven law performed beyond expectations. It reveals a need for our society to provide more resources for children whose parents would abandon them for whatever reason.
Shame on the legislators, public health officials and the wider media for wanting to sweep under the rug this truth that emerged from Nebraska’s new law.
It is a generally established fact, requirement that both of the parents equally have the full responsibility as much as they are able to do so as well, to properly, reasonably bring up their own chidden, not the state itself now, that includes them working to provide food, clothing, shelter, safety as well as providing proper education for them, preparing them to handle an adequate job, marriage now included. There is no question that some even professing Christian parents, too often one parent now , falsely have renegade on their responsibilities, they were lazy parents, some with unrealistic expectations from their spouses now too, and this has occurred world wide. I have often encountered now even teens under 18 who were abandoned by their professing Christian parents, who wanted to use the money rather on themselves absented, and their children thus were unable to get by now on their own , basically forced to live on the street as beggars..
So US State Safe haven laws were supposedly designed to allow potential abuse children be protected from any further abuse. For what ever reasons there are direct parents, both in non divorced and in divorced families that refuse to support their children any further.
” For years, child-welfare experts have disagreed about whether safe-haven laws reduce the total number of abandoned children. Neb. lawmakers consider revising ‘safe-haven’ law By TIMBERLY ROSS – 2 hours ago OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — When Nebraska lawmakers passed a unique “safe-haven” law that allowed parents to abandon children as old as 18, they never seriously thought such dropoffs would become common. But their worst fears have come true: At least 16 children, some of them teenagers, have been abandoned since the law took effect in July. Now elected officials are considering revising the law, and at least one anguished parent said he only surrendered his kids because he felt he had no choice. “If we see another family being left off, then we’re going to have to do something immediately,” said state Sen. Arnie Stuthman, who introduced legislation that was the basis for the law. Stuthman said lawmakers need to set a maximum age for children who can be handed over to the state, and he’s not sure whether it can wait until the Legislature reconvenes in January. But it’s not clear whether Gov. Dave Heineman will call a special session to modify the law, even though he has said it should be changed. For now, the law permits caregivers to abandon children at state-certified hospitals without fear of prosecution. It was intended to protect infants, but was amended to include the word “child,” which isn’t defined. So some have concluded the law covers all minors, which in Nebraska includes anyone under the age of 19. The latest example happened Wednesday, when an out-of-work widower left nine of his 10 children at an Omaha hospital, saying he was overwhelmed by family responsibilities. Gary Staton went to Creighton University Medical Center to surrender his five sons and four of his daughters, who ranged in age from 1 to 17. He did not bring his oldest daughter, 18. Staton’s wife died in early 2007, shortly after giving birth to their 10th child. The man told police he hasn’t worked since July and was struggling to make ends meet. “I was with her for 17 years, and then she was gone. What was I going to do?” Staton said to Omaha television station KETV. “We raised them together. I didn’t think I could do it alone. I fell apart. I couldn’t take care of them.” Calls by The Associated Press to a number listed for Staton went unanswered Friday. A number of relatives have volunteered to take the Staton siblings, said Kathie Osterman, a spokeswoman for the state department of Health and Human Services. She said the children may be temporarily placed with those family members until a judge decides on permanent custody. Osterman said Staton never asked relatives for help. Todd Landry, director of the division of Children and Family Services, said the safe-haven law was designed to help children who are in danger, but none of the kids who were dropped off had been in harm’s way. In addition to Staton’s kids, two unrelated boys were left Wednesday at a different Omaha hospital. Landry said he empathizes with parents who struggle to raise their families, but “it is the job of a parent to be a parent.” He said there are resources to help them. James Blue, president and CEO of the Lincoln-based nonprofit Cedars, which works with abused and neglected children, said he’s been inundated with calls ever since the safe-haven law took effect. He said the group gets more than 10 calls a day from struggling parents, and its temporary shelter is at its capacity of 15. “While this (law) has, I think, exposed an underbelly of our society of families that are dropping teenagers off forever at a hospital, it has also given a message to families that there is help out there,” Blue said. He said it’s important for the state to have a safe-haven law, but there needs to be an age limit for the children who are left behind. Nebraska lawmakers tried for years to pass the law, and they succeeded this year only after intense debate. Senators worried that an age limit was too arbitrary and that it might endanger youngsters who were just a week too old.
“It does open a door to older children being left off,”
11 The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.
12 She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.
13 She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.
14 She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar.
15 She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.
16 She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.
17 She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.
18 She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night.
19 She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.
20 She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet.
22 She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.
24 She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.
25 Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.
26 She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.
27 She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.
29 Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.
30 Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.
31 Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.
9 Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man,
10 Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints’ feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work.
11 But the younger widows refuse: for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry;
12 Having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith.
13 And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not.
14 I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.
15 For some are already turned aside after Satan.
16 If any man or woman that believeth have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church be charged; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed.
Parents Give Up Youths Under Law Meant for Babies
New York Times – 1 By ERIK ECKHOLM OMAHA – The abandonments began on Sept. 1, when a mother left her 14-year-old son in a police station here. By Sept.
Kin of 9 abandoned kids say they would’ve helped The Associated Press
Kin of 9 abandoned kids say they would’ve helped WLOS
MSNBC – NBC13.com – WOWT – Trading Markets (press release)
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Abusive dad jailed nine years
Edmonton Sun – By SUN MEDIA CALGARY — A father who gave his daughter marijuana, sexually abused her and made child pornography videos of what he did has been sent to prison for nine years.
Dad jailed for sex assaults on drugged daughter Calgary Herald
Calgary man gets 9 years for abusing daughter Calgary CTV
Canoe.ca – 660 News – Canada.com
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