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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Safe Baby program offers choices

The UA is now part of the Safe Baby program, which organizers say helps raise awareness about the resources available for pregnant women.

The program is a collaboration between the Dean of Students Office, Pima County Attorney’s Office and Casa de Los Niños, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping abused or neglected children.  

After a student gave birth in a residence hall bathroom last year, the Dean of Students Office organized a group of students and departments to help determine the best way to get information about Arizona pregnancy laws out to students, said Carol Thompson, assistant vice president for student affairs and dean of students.

If students come from other communities, states or countries, they may not be aware of Arizona’s Safe Haven Law, which passed in 2001, Thompson said. Under the law, a person can anonymously bring a baby within 72 hours of birth to a Safe Haven provider. The person will not be charged with child abuse if they physically give the baby to a representative and the baby does not show any signs of injury.

“”We would want any individual who is part of our community to know this is a good resource, should they find themselves in a situation where they’re not sure what to do,”” Thompson said.

The current Safe Baby awareness program at UA consists of posters and magnets. The posters are displayed in residence halls and other buildings on campus. They list locations close to campus where a person can leave their newborn.

“”The students involved felt those were the most effective measures,”” she said.

The magnets contain similar information, and are placed in bathroom stalls of residence halls. The magnets give the message, “”If you’re about to give birth and feel alone, don’t panic, there is an option.””

“”It allows somebody when they’re in private to take it with them,”” Thompson said. “”No one needs to know.””

Thompson said the materials have been ready since the beginning of the school year and the involved students have been distributing them since then. Besides the posters and the magnets, information is also available online.

Stephanie Reed, a pre-architecture freshman, said she started noticing the Safe Baby materials about two weeks ago around Maricopa Residence Hall, where she lives.

The campaign is a good idea, she said.

“”You hear stories about babies being left in trash cans,”” she said. “”I think it’s good for prevention to avoid bad incidents from occurring.””

Tucson’s Safe Baby program has been in existence since 2001 as part of a state Safe Baby coalition. As of now, Casa de los Niños is in charge of Tucson’s campaign.  

“”It’s always been a natural fit for us,”” said Carol Weingold, the child abuse prevention coordinator for Casa de los Niños, since the program supports the organization’s goal of preventing child abuse and neglect.

Tucson’s Safe Baby campaign consists of posters, magnets, fliers, a Web site and public service announcements on local radio and news stations. 

Weingold is the only person who distributes the information for Casa de los Niños. She distributes the materials whenever she speaks in the community. Casa de los Niños also collaborates with other organizations in the community to get the word out.

“”We like to be seen kind of as a gateway for the community to get this information,”” she said.

Weingold said a baby girl was dropped off at University Medical Center in March. She said this was exciting news because it occurred soon after a UA student gave birth in her residence hall bathroom.

“”It helped a little in dealing with that issue,”” she said. “”We’re really excited UA is so receptive to collaborating with us to help something good turn out of this horrible situation.””

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