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The abandoned child is called a foundling or throwaway (as opposed to a runaway).
Causes[edit | edit source]
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[edit | edit source]
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.
Current situation[edit | edit source]
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.
Psychologal effects of abandonment[edit | edit source]
Notable foundlings[edit | edit source]
See also[edit | edit source]
- Abandoned child syndrome
- Baby hatch
- Attachment behaviour
- Child abandonment in literature
- Child abuse
- Child neglect
- Dependency (Personality)
- Feral child
- Relationship termination
- Safe haven law
- Seperation anxiety
- Seperation reactions
- Street children
Notes[edit | edit source]
- The Visigothic Code: (Forum judicum), Book IV: Concerning Natural Lineage Title IV: Concerning Foundlings
- Jones v. Helms, .
- What happens to abandoned babies?. Magazine. BBC. URL accessed on 22 March 2010.
References[edit | edit source]
- Dorothy L. Sayers, "Oedipus Simplex: Freedom and Fate in Folklore and Fiction"
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