Editorial: Safe Haven law needs more discussions
March 19, 2014
By Editorial Board
Somewhere, there’s a mother, probably a young woman, hurting. She’s the one who left her newborn beside the road here in the Snoqualmie Valley last month.
The dead baby, named Baby Kimball by the King County Sheriff’s Office deputies who have been trying to find the woman, was memorialized at a funeral service March 15. The community drew together to honor the child who never had a chance to laugh or eat Popsicles or see the sun and the moon and the stars or pet a puppy or learn to roll over or walk.
While we’ve all been focused on the horrific act, there are a couple things to remember about Baby Kimball and her mother.
The mother, in all likelihood, did not know about the Safe Haven laws in place in our state that allow parents to give up a newborn without repercussions or questions as long as it hasn’t been abused.
While it may seem the law is well-publicized, it’s not reaching many of the teens who, arguably, need most to hear about it.
As one 16-year-old explained to us, in sex education classes they learn about HIV and AIDS, they learn about sexually-transmitted diseases, they learn how to prevent pregnancy and hear lectures about abstaining from sex. But the one thing they don’t hear about is Safe Haven — how they can give up a new baby to any hospital or fire station.
Of course, both that teenager and the baby’s mother could have missed the Safe Haven lesson. As parents know, teenagers have selective hearing and tune out important messages.
The mother in this situation was terribly wrong to leave the baby in the woods. But she undoubtedly felt trapped, frightened and alone. She obviously didn’t know where to turn. We need to be more proactive, letting teenagers and young adults know we will support them. We all need to reach out and let the youths of the community know we care, no matter how insurmountable their problems may seem.
Newspaper stories can only go so far in spreading the word about this program. A larger public information campaign is called for.
While school curricula are already overburdened, it seems worthwhile to include education about Safe Haven laws — likely within the context of existing sex education classes.
By being there for more teenagers, we may prevent more Baby Kimball tragedies.