Terms used to discuss newborn discard can be confusing for the public, the media, lawmakers, child welfare professionals, and even advocates for either side of the Safe Haven and Safe Haven Baby Box debate. Some terms are used interchangeably and tend to be misused—sometimes purposefully—due to a lack of knowledge of the standardized professional meaning or to push an agenda.
Below are standard definitions we use:
- Discarded Infants: Living infants younger than 12 months left alone and unclaimed in public or other inappropriate places.
- Abandoned Infants: Living infants younger than 12 months who are medically discharged after birth but are unlikely to be claimed by parents. These infants tend to be medically fragile, suffer from the effects of parental alcohol or drug use or have other serious health issues. Some parents simply have no interest in parenting. The infants are also known as boarder babies because they are left in the care of hospitals, Over the years, the “boarder baby” rate has decreased due to state and federal programs established to incentivize parents to take custody. Newborns are now being left in hospitals after birth by often identified parents under Safe Haven protocols, however, making them boarder babies (if even for a short time). Thus, the “official” boarder baby population has decreased, but the number of newborns “relinquished” under Safe Haven protocols have increased that status. No study, to the best of our knowledge, has been done on this.
- Neonaticide: The murder of a child who is under the age of 24 hours
- Infanticide: The murder of a child up to the age of 1
- Filicide: the murder of one’s own child
- Infant Mortality Rate: The rate of death of infants before their first birthday The rate is determined by the number of infant deaths for every 1000 live births in 1 year.
- Maternal Mortality Rate: The rate of death due to pregnancy, childbirth, and puerperium (the period from the end of the third stage of labor until involution of the uterus is complete) within 42 days. The rate is determined by the number of maternal deaths per 100,000 registered live births in 1 year.
- Safe Haven Baby Boxes: Devices that resemble a bank or library depository but contain temperature controls and other safety features similar to standard newborn incubators. Boxes are installed in the walls of fire stations, hospitals or other authorized locations to facilitate easy, de-personalized, and legalized “anonymous abandonment” of newborns by parents (typically mothers) or those designated by them.
- Newborn safety devices or newborn safety incubators: A generic term found in legislation to refer to Safe Haven Baby Boxes
- Safe Haven Baby Box Foundation aka Safe Haven Baby Boxes Inc The name of the lead organization promoting box use and the holder of the US patented “newborn safety device.”
- Safe Haven Baby Box Movement: The generic term we use to all movement to legalize SHBB uses, although boxes promoted by other groups could go by a different name.
We use “discard” and prefer the term “legal (or legalized) abandonment” to refer to Safe Haven and Safe Haven Baby Box procedures. Authors of original posts here will attempt to maintain that differentiation, though admittedly it is sometimes difficult.