We have all heard of “dumpster babies,” abandoned newborns left to die by unfit parents.
And now, courtesy of Nebraska’s not-too-careful legislature, we have “dumpster teens” — near-adult youngsters left with the state of Nebraska by their parents, following last July’s loosening of the state’s child neglect statute.
The legislature, trying to prevent dumpster babies, weakened penalties to irresponsible parents who at least show the tiniest responsibility by not leaving infants in dumpsters, or the like, to die, but rather leaving them at hospitals for someone else to take up care.
Little did they expect parents to abandon growing children, including teenagers.
Though unintended, the effects were, well, ludicrously predictable. The legislators had used the word “child” rather than defining it more narrowly to “newborns.”
A special session has now been convened, and the law tidied up to include only infants 30 days or younger. But not before dozens of young people were abandoned. Some parents travelled across state lines to get rid of their kids.
Strange that the same legislature that outlawed non-residents from helping circulate petitions in Nebraska would allow non-residents to drop off their unwanted children in the state. But I digress.
Nebraska legislators may have meant well, but they ignored a basic principle: Some obligations should not be made too easy to break.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.