Okay, you've been warned that I'm on my soapbox today...
I never cease to be amazed at what a topsy-turvy world we live in and the mixed messages that the world, and we, send our children.
Several days ago it was on the local news that a baby had been left on the doorstep of an elderly woman one very cold morning. Follow-up stories gave us several bits of information.
- The baby was a few hours old (cord still attached).
- The mother was a 17 year old high school student (the "news" felt is necessary to name the school).
- The baby was in a large shoebox wrapped in a blanket and two adult shirts.
- The mother left a note saying she knew she couldn't take care of the baby.
- The mother was later identified and taken in to be tried in juvenile court.
Clearly this was not a good choice and I am certainly not saying that there don't appear to be better options. What I do want to say is that there are some other interesting facts we know and a whole bunch that we do not.
- They identified the mother because she got on the school bus after leaving the baby and upon arriving at school told the counselor what she had done.
- She said she left the baby at that particular house because she knew someone would be home.
We do not know this girl's particular circumstances. We do not know about her home situation. We do not know anything about the father. (It seems she may have been trying to take care of the baby the best she knew how and was able to.) She did not leave it in a dumpster or trash can. Some feel that because we have a "Safe Haven" law she didn't use that she deserves to be prosecuted. Hmmm. Did she know about the law? Are we teaching about it in our schools? Are the pro-life and/or pro choice advocates/agencies putting money and energy behind making people aware of the details of this law? The law here allows a baby up to 45 days old to be left at a hospital, fire station, or police station. Was there one of those within walking distance of this girl's neighborhood? Keep in mind that she had recently given birth and very likely did not have the money to take a city bus or cab to an "appropriate" place. Do any agencies make transportation available to someone in this situation?
Stop for just a minute - take off your judgement hat, your pro-choice hat or your pro-life hat and consider what a mixed message we, as a society, send. We have a Safe Haven law - but if you aren't fortunate enough to have one of the "appropriate" drop off places where you can access it - we will prosecute you. We have a law that makes abortion legal. Therefore, if this girl had chosen to kill her baby four to six months ago there would have been no headlines and she would not be being prosecuted. It appears as though they will "go easy" on her. Even so, since the newspaper and television both carried the story along with her age, her school, and the address where the baby was left, her peers will likely know or figure out who it is and she will still have that to deal with.
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We send mixed messages all the time. Here are just a few examples:
- We want our children to practice abstinence but we allow them to watch movies and television shows that glorify premarital sex and show it as "what everyone is doing".
- We want our children to "just say no" while we can't wait to watch and read the latest information on the "stars" who have gone to rehab- been arrested - overdosed, or while we overuse or abuse prescription drugs or alcohol ourselves.
- We tell our kids their "value" when we complain about higher taxes to pay teachers, police and firefighters more or about the cost of daycare but turn around and spend anywhere from twice to ten times as much for a ticket to watch a concert or sporting event.
- We watch that team, buy their apparel, and are more than happy to discuss last nights game without a second thought about supporting the players who have been caught doing drugs, driving drunk, carrying unlicensed firearms, and a host of other illegal activities for which they mostly avoid prosecution.
- Then there are all the issues with models and advertising...
Sadly, I could go on. I think, however, that you get the point.
We as individuals and as a society send our kids all kinds of mixed messages every day and then wonder what happened when they do something wrong or make bad choices or don't know what to do in a difficult situation.
Shame on us.