Baby Safe Havens

The most recent baby abandonment case in East Boston sparked discussion in the health care community about the awareness level among teens about the 2004 Massachusetts Safe Haven Act. The act “allows a parent to legally surrender newborn infants 7 days old or younger at a hospital, police station, or manned fire station without facing criminal prosecution” according to the Official Website of the Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS).

When I heard about the most recent local case, I asked my teenaged son and his male and female friends if they knew what a Safe Haven was. No one knew. As a mother and nurse, this is troubling. It’s critical for parents, teachers and community youth leaders to educate teens that the option of Safe Havens is out there for any young person expecting a child who might be struggling and afraid. Abandonment is just not acceptable.

Implementing Safe Haven education in high schools—especially those already discussing social issues with teens—is one way to help decrease abandonment incidences and keep babies safe. Information should also be located in guidance counselor offices. For more information about Safe Havens visit www.nationalsafehavenalliance.org or www.babysafehaven.com.

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