08/23/2019 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 08/23/2019 11:54
Legislation sponsored by Senator Anthony Bucco and Senator Michael Doherty to ensure that all high school students are taught about the 'New Jersey Safe Haven Protection Act' has been signed into law.
Legislation sponsored by Sen. Anthony Bucco and Sen. Michael Doherty to ensure that all high school students are taught about the 'New Jersey Safe Haven Protection Act' has been signed into law. (NJSafeHaven.org)
'Since its enactment, New Jersey's Safe Haven Act has saved the lives of seventy-two infants,' said Bucco. 'Think of how many more innocent newborns will be positively impacted by increasing awareness of this program amongst our teens. Through this new law, we can help prevent more cases of illegal abandonment and give unwilling parents the opportunity to surrender a child lawfully, anonymously, and safely.'
'We've seen the horror stories in the news where a distressed teenage parent unsafely abandons their newborn, sometimes leading to the baby's death,' said Doherty. 'We have the tools to prevent those terrible outcomes through a program that has already proven to work. Further expanding education about Safe Havens can save a helpless baby from desertion and give a loving family the child they always wanted. I am pleased that all New Jersey high school students will be taught about this lifesaving program.'
The legislation, S-1126, which is now law, 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.
'We need to make sure that all of our high school students understand they have the option to safely turn over a baby, especially for those not yet ready for parenthood,' Bucco added. 'I have no doubt that better education about Safe Havens will save more lives.'
'We have a responsibility to protect those who cannot protect themselves, especially innocent children,' Doherty added. 'Expanding awareness of this program throughout the high school community will give a newborn the opportunity to be raised in and enjoy a safe, loving home.'