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Child abandonment is the practice of abandoning offspring outside of legal adoption. Causes include many social, cultural, and political factors as well as mental illness.

The abandoned child is called a foundling or throwaway (as opposed to a runaway).

Causes

Poverty is often a root cause of child abandonment. Persons in cultures with poor social welfare systems who are not financially capable of taking care of a child are more likely to abandon him/her. Political conditions, such as difficulty in adoption proceedings, may also contribute to child abandonment, as can the lack of institutions, such as orphanages, to take in children whom their parents cannot support. Societies with strong social structures and liberal adoption laws tend to have lower rates of child abandonment.

History

Historically, many cultures practice abandonment of infants, called "exposure." Although such children would survive if taken up by others, exposure is often considered a form of infanticide—as described by Tertullian in his Apology: "it is certainly the more cruel way to kill. . . by exposure to cold and hunger and dogs"

Similarly, there have been instances of homocidal neglect by confinement of infants or children such as in the affair of the Osaka child abandonment case or the affair of 2 abandoned children in Calgary, Alberta, Canada by their mother Rie Fujii.

Medieval laws in Europe governing child abandonment, as for example the Visgothic Code, often prescribed that the person who had taken up the child was entitled to the child's service as a slave.[1]

Current situation

Today, abandonment of a child is considered to be a serious crime in many jurisdictions because it can be considered malum in se (wrong in itself) due to the direct harm to the child, and because of welfare concerns (in that the child often becomes a burden upon the public fisc). Many jurisdictions have exceptions in the form of safe haven laws, which apply to babies left in designated places such as hospitals. For example, in the U.S. state of Georgia, it is a misdemeanor to willfully and voluntarily abandon a child, and a felony to abandon one's child and leave the state. In 1981, Georgia's treatment of abandonment as a felony when the defendant leaves the state was upheld as constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court.[2]

In the UK abandoning a child under the age of 2 years is a criminal offence.[3] In 2004 49 babies were abandoned nationwide with on average slightly more boys than girls being abandoned.[3]


Psychologal effects of abandonment

Notable foundlings

See also

Notes

  1. The Visigothic Code: (Forum judicum), Book IV: Concerning Natural Lineage Title IV: Concerning Foundlings
  2. Jones v. Helms, 452 U.S. 412 (1981) .
  3. 3.0 3.1 What happens to abandoned babies?. Magazine. BBC. URL accessed on 22 March 2010.

References

de:Findelkind
ja:捨て子
nl:Vondeling
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