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Nebraska- Tuesdays’ self “havening” girl “havened” both herself and her baby, so how’s that one work?

This is the latest in a series of posts I have done criticizing Nebraska’s legalized child abandonment laws. You can find my earlier posts via my Nebraska tag.


As I blogged yesterday, last Tuesday a second teen attempted to self “haven” under Nebraska’s legalized child abandonment law.

Turns out when it comes to teens turning themselves in, Nebraska’s “haven” is little more than a cruel joke. Anyone with physical custody of a “child” (which in Nebraska is anyone under age 19) is protected under the law when abandoning said “child”, all in the name of supposedly protecting kids from potential imminent harm.

Yet if a “child” in Nebraska turns themselves in seeking help, after for example being allegedly being hit, then kicked out of her home by her mother, the lack-of-haven law apparently doesn’t apply to them, they don’t qualify.

Had this girl managed to bribe a bum off the street for a bottle of booze to take her to the hospital that would have qualified, but because she showed up alone, she’s shit outta luck.

But wait, it gets even weirder, see Teen’s Surrender Not A ‘Safe Haven’ Case, which mentions:

A sixteen-year-old girl who surrendered herself and her child under Nebraska’s Safe Haven law has discovered that the law doesn’t apply to her.


Crawford said her sister escorted the teenager and the baby.

“This is a mother-daughter argument that my sister took to the extreme and blew this out of proportion,” said Crawford.

Yes, the mother’s sister (the girl’s aunt) “escorted” our self surrendering teen, who it just so happens is also a teen mother, who brought her baby along with her to Immanuel Hospital in Omaha after allegedly being hit and kicked out of the house.

Ok, so let’s try to detangle this one.

The aunt “escorted” her to the state authorized site, but apparently the teen attempted to haven herself (and her baby.)

Could this mean the rough equivalent of for example, the aunt drove here there but she walked in by herself? How much a part of this was or wasn’t the aunt? If she was an intrinsic part of the girl getting from wherever she was to the hospital, then what? Just how much of an adult presence in the circumstances of a “havening” counts as enough for it to be counted as a “safe haven” by Nebraska DHHS? If the aunt stood 5 feet away at the time and the girl announced her intention to “haven” herself, does that still fail to pass the physical custody test? Whose idea was it for the girl to “haven” herself? Her own? Or did the Aunt bring it up?

What exactly does “escorted” mean in this context?

All of which simply means we’re left with more questions than answers.

Not surprising considering how make-it-up-as-we-go-along Nebraska’s approach to how the law is applied has been. When it has come to the practical application, despite Nebraska DHHS’s attempts to map out a process (see here, under “Other Documents”) there are simply too many unanswered variables.

Case after case is bringing all those things that were unanticipated by some, to the fore, questions such as Nebraska’s Indian Child Welfare Act obligations, or what happens when teens begin self “havening,” as Nebraska is the only state with a law with an age cap high enough whereby teens could.

So now let’s come to part two of the great unstrategized. This high school sophomore showed up with her baby in arms, attempting to self “haven” both herself and her baby. Nebraska won’t qualify her as a legalized child abandonment, but what about the baby? It was brought in by someone with physical custody, to a state authorized legalized child abandonment site. Does the baby now enter the system without her? Or are they allowed to remain together? If she doesn’t count does the baby not count as well? Or are they going to take the baby away?

Has anyone even begun thinking about all this mess?

The “report” referred to below would appear to allege physical and emotional abuse by Portia Crawford (the girl’s mother):

Court documents said Crawford didn’t take care of her daughter and grandson and didn’t give them a stable place to stay. Juvenile court attorneys said Crawford emotionally abused her daughter by calling her dumb and telling her she looked like a whore.

“I didn’t do all the allegations that they got in the report, bloody her nose and call her all sorts of names. I didn’t do all that. They blew this out of proportion,” Crawford said. “There was no neglect or abuse here, just an argument. My daughter got upset about it, that’s all that happened.”

But as for the girl herself, because Nebraska thinks she doesn’t qualify, she’s got “nowhere to go,” which is to say she has allegedly been hit and kicked out by her mother, then abandoned in her hour of need by the state, under the very law that was supposedly designed to protect kids in dire situations:

“They have nowhere to go because they’re not safe in Portia’s home,” said juvenile county attorney Nicole Goaley.

She said Crawford’s daughter and grandson will get the services they need, but they don’t qualify for the Safe Haven law. Goaley said Crawford would have to give up her daughter and grandson in order for the law to apply and Crawford won’t do that.

I hear lots of they’ll “get the services they need” but I’ll be watching to see how that plays out in practical application.

As for the “Safe Haven” law, clearly it’s unworthy of bearing the word “haven” in its title.

When a kid, clearly in a situation of not merely imminent threat, but apparently pre-existing abuse turns to it for help she is greeted with nothing but a landscape of “safe haven” failure.


As a final note, since this would apparently mean two separate kids, the girl and her baby, were attempted “havens” on Tuesday, I guess I now sadly need to revise my count up by one. To date the total number of kids who have in some way interacted with the dump law, whether counted by Nebraska DHHS or not, now stands at 24.

Repeal the dump laws.

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