Legislation sponsored by Senator Anthony Bucco and Senator Michael Doherty ensuring that high school students are taught about the “New Jersey Safe Haven Protection Act” has received final legislative approval and is heading to the Governor’s desk.
Sens. Anthony Bucco and Michael Doherty’s legislation ensuring that high school students are taught about the “New Jersey Safe Haven Protection Act” is heading to the Governor’s desk. (NJSafeHaven.org)
“Teenage parents often hide pregnancies to avoid punishment from parents, and they’re among the most likely to abandon a newborn baby in an unsafe manner,” Bucco (R-25) said. “New Jersey’s Safe Haven Act has proven to saves lives by giving parents who may not want a child a safe, anonymous, and legal way to surrender a baby. After the recent tragedy in Neptune, where a young teenage mother is accused of murdering her newborn child, we need to make sure that all of New Jersey students understand this option. Expanding education can protect a baby from harm and prevent teen parents from making extremely bad choices that may send them to jail.”
“New Jersey’s Safe Haven Act saves lives,” Doherty (R-23) said. “Fostering awareness of this program may save a helpless baby from desertion and give a loving family the child they always wanted.”
The legislation, S-1126, requires high school students to be taught, in an age appropriate manner, the provisions of the “New Jersey Safe Haven Protection Act” in health and physical education classes.
Bucco was the original sponsor of the “New Jersey Safe Haven Protection Act,” which was signed into law in 2000.
This act permits individuals – parents or someone acting on their behalf – to anonymously surrender a baby up to one month old to any New Jersey hospital, police station, fire station, ambulance, first aid, and rescue squad that are operated 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
New Jersey’s Department of Children and Families immediately takes a surrendered child into custody and works to place them into the pre-adoption process or foster care.
In 2015, Bucco succeeded in expanding the locations that serve as ‘safe havens’ to include fire stations and ambulance, first aid, and rescue squads.
He said there are still too many instances of newborns and infants being abandoned in an unsafe manner, perhaps due to a lack of knowledge that ‘Safe Havens’ exist.
In April 2019, a Neptune High School teenager was charged with murder for the death of her newborn infant.
“Heightening awareness of New Jersey’s Safe Haven laws to all high school students will prevent cases of illegal abandonment, or worse, and offer others the opportunity to adopt a child into a loving family,” Bucco added. “We’ve already saved the lives of at least sixty newborns through this program, and I have no doubt we can save even more through better education.”
“We have a responsibility to protect those who cannot protect themselves, especially innocent children,” Doherty added. “Promoting our Safe Haven programs throughout the high school community will reduce the stigma and give children the opportunity to live in and enjoy a safe, loving home.”
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