By Erika Castella, Jessica Parrott and Haley Davis
In early October, officials were called out to a residential home in the 2600 block of 22nd street in Tech Terrace, where an infant was found wrapped in a blanket in a plastic container. According to a police report, as she was heading to school, a woman walked out to her driveway and found the newborn boy, along with a package of diapers.
Since October, it has not been discovered who left the child, but whoever it was, will be charged with abandoning or endangering a child, according to a press release issued by the City of Lubbock Police Department.
Will Rose, a junior mechanical engineering major at Texas Tech, lives on 22nd Street near where the baby was left, and said he is shocked by what happened.
“If this was done by the person the baby belonged to, if they just left it, they need to be punished,” Rose said. “I hate that this happened anywhere, especially right by my house.”
Public Information Officer for the Lubbock Police Department, Tiffany Pelt, said the child was transported to University Medical Center where he was evaluated and checked out medically to ensure he was okay.
Because the baby was left in an area so highly populated by college students, and because whoever abandoned it did not take advantage of the Safe Haven Law or Baby Moses Law, some are speculating that it may have been a young person.
Signed into effect June 3, 1999 by Former Governor George W. Bush, the Safe Haven Law was enacted for mothers in crisis to safely abdicate their babies to specific locations where the child would be provided for and protected.
According to the Child Welfare Website, the Safe Haven law allows the parent’s anonymity to remain intact, while also being shielded from any degree of prosecution for abandonment or neglect.
“Parents can safely drop their children off at any Safe Haven location which includes, hospitals, fire departments, or EMS stations,” Pelt said. “They can do this anonymously and no charges are filed against them.”
Baleigh Reed, a junior human development and family studies major, said she would even guess that the child could have been abandoned by a college student not wanting to face reality.
“It’s a good possibility that it could have been a college student,” Reed said. “They probably didn’t want to come face to face with someone while giving up a baby and chose what could be considered an easier way out.”
Unplanned pregnancies in college are not uncommon.
According to Pregnant On Campus, a website that features resources for college-aged women who are pregnant, over 2 million women 18-24 become pregnant each year.
Tayler O’Hara is a freshman community, family and addictive studies major at Texas Tech University with an 18-month old daughter named Hannah.
“I had just started school when I found out I was pregnant and I was terrified,” O’Hara said. “I quickly gave up on the idea of ever getting my education and temporarily dropped out of school.”
Despite the drastic lifestyle change, O’Hara said it was important for her to remind herself of her goals daily and never give up.
“It took having my precious baby girl to get the motivation I needed to do school,” O’Hara said. “ There are days that are so hard, and want to give up so badly, but as soon as I see her, I push through those hard times.”
Forty-three percent of the total college student parent population is single mothers, according to the institute for women’s policy research. These mothers face significant time demands outside of their schoolwork, with 56 percent devoting more than 30 hours per week to earning income.
“I am in school for eight hours straight twice a week and I have to meet 40 hours a week at work any day that I’m not in school,” O’Hara said. “I usually work on homework after I put her to bed so I can focus, and also be able to spend time with her.”
Amanda Edwards, a senior human development and family studies major, said she observed several different situations that caused people to consider giving up ownership of a child while interning at the Children’s Advocacy Center of Collin County this past summer.
“Honestly, it was every day – someone came into the center either just too overwhelmed or had economic reasons, but they were just not able to care for the child,” Edwards said.
Nick Hagan, firefighter and paramedic at Buckley Fire Department, said one of the most important things we can do is make people aware of their options and what these laws provide.
“People need to know how this type of law can protect those who abide by it,” Hagan explained.
Safe Haven allows children up to 60 days old to be given to anyone working in a designated critical care facility.
“Regardless of your guilt, or capability – that’s why we have these types of laws,” Hagan explained.
According to the Child Welfare website, the law states an individual must physically hand the baby over to anyone working in the designated safe place location.
“At least if you can’t live with having a kid, you can live with the idea that the kid is gonna be taken care of,” Hagan said.