Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Gimmie Shelter

Since the story first broke some weeks ago, I've been pondering the situation in Nebraska, in which parents had been abusing the state's "safe haven" law in order to relieve themselves of their young-adult offspring. There are two outstanding questions raised by this behavior that make it seem especially surreal to me.

First, how were these teenagers coerced into cooperating with their abandonment? If at least some of them were indeed left because of "out-of-control behavior," would they evince so little autonomy in this situation? And those abandoned for other reasons - had their daily existences been so traumatic that they were utterly dependent upon their parents? Or were some of them so antipathetic toward their families that they welcomed release, regardless of the circumstances?

As for the parents themselves, how utterly alienated from mainstream society must they have been in order to neither seek the social welfare services applicable to their situations, nor apparently have the kind of social networks that could apply sufficient normative pressure to deter them from abandoning their children?

Separately, each of these situations is an entirely realistic, and unfortunately all-too-pervasive, possibility in our society. But the fact that several of them must have necessarily coincided in each of these abandonings makes the fact that nearly 30 such occurred in a four-month period seem to indicate a chronic undercurrent of dysfunction.

No comments: