Wisconsin Paper Ends Birth Announcements — Infant Abduction Danger Too Great

Readers — Wrap your head in a towel before you read this, so when you bang your head against  the wall it won’t hurt as much:

State Journal birth notices to end because of hospitals’ new policy

by David Wahlberg

The [Wisconsin] State Journal will stop publishing birth announcements later this week because Madison’s two birthing hospitals will no longer provide the information to the newspaper.

The end of the traditional keepsake for parents and notice to the community stems from a growing concern about infant abductions, hospital officials say.

Birth listings “set people up as targets for somebody who might want to steal a baby,” said Kathy Kostrivas, Meriter Hospital’s assistant vice president for women’s health services.

“It’s an effort to improve safety and security for families,” said Kim Sveum, spokeswoman for St. Mary’s Hospital.

...The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children tells parents to consider the risk of birth notices.

“In general, birth announcements in newspapers are not endorsed by most experts,” says a guide by the center, called, “What Parents Should Know.”

At least 290 babies have been abducted in the U.S. since 1983, including 132 at health care facilities, according to the center. Four cases, from 1989 to 1993, were linked by law enforcement to birth announcements, the center says.

“Our world is so different now than it was 25 to 30 years ago,” said Cathy Nahirny, the center’s senior analyst for infant abduction cases. Abductors “are using every means available to them to select a possible victim infant,” she said.

As one reader who sent in this story noted: “Reading the article it would appear that your new born would have a greater chance of being hit by lightening on the way home from the hospital, but I guess you never know and better safe than sorry eh?”

Yes, and what a perfect way to begin parenthood: Deeply terrified and convinced the world is worse than ever. (Despite the fact that  crime is down to the level it was when gas was 29 cents a gallon.) – L

Come and get him!

Come and get him!

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84 Responses to Wisconsin Paper Ends Birth Announcements — Infant Abduction Danger Too Great

  1. J.T. Wenting January 1, 2014 at 11:59 pm #

    they’re quite right, and seeing as 90% of those abductions are by one of the parents in a custody fight, they should start by no longer notifying parents of them having a baby.
    This can be accomplished by not allowing men in the maternity ward at all, anesthesising women, and taking all newborns away to be placed in foster homes right after birth.

  2. renee January 2, 2014 at 12:18 am #

    Do we really believe that baby snatchers scan through the announcements to find a baby to steal? Given the baby is probably back home before the paper is printed, I can’t imagine someone going “hmmmm….. Little Lindsey Smith is cute. I’ll go get that one”. I doubt very much that home addresses were printed,so how would they locate their intended target?

    In truth, I suspect some HIPAA inspector called it a violation of patient privacy, which it likely is unless the parents consent. Couching it in safety terms makes it more palatable to modern parents conditioned to think the world is dangerous.

  3. Earth.W January 2, 2014 at 12:20 am #

    With the growing number of cases in the media of underage sex committed by adult women, wouldn’t it be sensible to remove all children from the vicinity of all females?

    Seems legit…

  4. Bose in St. Peter MN January 2, 2014 at 12:21 am #

    The number of live births each year from 1983 through 2009 ranged from 3.6 to 4.1 million, for a round total somewhere north of 105 million births.

    The 132 abductions from health care facilities, then, account for 0.00013%.

  5. SOA January 2, 2014 at 12:40 am #

    I will admit I made it clear to friends and family I did not want the balloons on the mailbox or the sign out in the yard because I was afraid it could attract kidnappers. Just something about announcing newborn baby here! did not seem like a good idea to me. Also announcing sleep deprived parents! I guess like you said the chances are slim but it never sat right with me.

  6. SOA January 2, 2014 at 12:41 am #

    I also did not want a birth announcement in the paper for a similar reason and just I think you have to pay for it and I did not care to pay for that.

  7. L nettles January 2, 2014 at 1:12 am #

    The announcement of Barack Obama’s birth in the Honolulu paper was the quickest way to discredit the birther controversy .

  8. Peter January 2, 2014 at 1:26 am #

    I did my own calculation. Using figures from the year 2012, Madison accounts for 240.323/313900 = less than 0.08% of the US population. That means we can expect that since the year 1983, we can expect that percent of the 132 babies abducted from hospitals were abducted from hospitals. That’s an estimate of about a tenth of one baby in 30 years in the entire city. Divide by the 30 years and that is 0.0034 babies abducted from hospitals in Madison per year. Yes, this really seems like a significant problem.

    On the flipside, I never read birth announcements anyway, so I wouldn’t miss that being printed. 😉

  9. Bob Davis January 2, 2014 at 1:30 am #

    When my daughters were born, the only problem with having their births recorded was that the mailbox was soon full of ads for “items of interest to new parents”. Granted, this was long before baby monitors, infant-size knee pads, etc. were on the market. I’ve forgotten whether there were any notices in the newspapers (certainly not if we’d had to pay for them!), but I suspect the marketers had an inside track to the Vital Statistics office.

  10. Laura January 2, 2014 at 1:40 am #

    Crazy! I’ve never heard that reason before, but I have heard they recommend you don’t do newspaper announcements anymore because of identity theft (and SSNs being given out at birth now make that a bigger problem for newborns I guess).

  11. Robin from Israel January 2, 2014 at 2:34 am #

    Umm, wouldn’t the hordes of potential abductors be able to figure out that the newborn ward is where the babies are even without the announcements if they were in fact hell-bent on abducting a random baby (which in itself is more than a wee bit farfetched)? I’m just saying…

  12. SOA January 2, 2014 at 3:26 am #

    Robin: our hospital are virtually impossible to abduct babies from. They put bracelets on their ankles and an alarm goes off if they leave the newborn ward and all doors lock and it goes into lockdown. So yeah if someone was going to kidnap a newborn, it probably would be easier doing it at their home later on than at the hospital. Hospital also has a million security cameras and policemen and security guards, blah blah.

    All we had at our house was some standard locked doors and windows and some super sleep deprived parents. So if I was a criminal I know which ones I personally would target.

    But again, I realize this is a very very small percentage that this would ever happen.

    I also think the whole putting the balloons on the mailbox or the sign comes off as a little self important. Not bashing anyone that does it, but honestly do you really think people care you just had a baby? Probably random strangers do not. The people that know you already know you have a baby because they talk to you and you probably told them, so then what purpose does the public display fill?

  13. MichaelF January 2, 2014 at 4:06 am #

    So because of statistics that show babies were abducted 20 years ago we need to change our behavior NOW? Very forward thinking of them. When my oldest was born 8 years ago we were given something that did note not to leave anything on the outside of the house signifying that there was a new baby to avoid being targeted by abductors. We lived in a condo at the time, so it didn’t really seem like a necessary warning.

  14. Ben January 2, 2014 at 4:33 am #

    Call me crazy, but if abductors use every means available to them, they might as well check Facebook to see if the baby photo’s are coming in. If 290 infants were abducted since 1983, that would be roughly 10 per year as opposed to the millions that nothing happened to.

    Also, why haven’t they said how many of those infant abductions were the result of relationship difficulty between the parents and how many of those infants survived without being scarred for life. I suspect the number is pretty high.

    Last point, if 4 infant abductions were linked to birth announcements, that’s not statistically significant. It pays to know statistics. It’s just a fluke people, not actually a causal connection that needs to be guarded against.

  15. QuicoT January 2, 2014 at 6:35 am #

    “your new born would have a greater chance of being hit by lightening on the way home from the hospital,”

    We should definitely ban this nefarious practice of allowing people to take their babies home from hospital

  16. BL January 2, 2014 at 6:38 am #

    “The 132 abductions from health care facilities, then, account for 0.00013%”

    Compare that with 9.1% of US Presidents that have been assassinated. And yet we continue to allow election results to be published.

  17. JJ January 2, 2014 at 7:00 am #

    This is the worst: ” our world is so different than it was. 25 years ago.”

    True. We were much more reasonable then.

  18. Donna January 2, 2014 at 7:44 am #

    Now that you mention it, I can’t recall the last time I saw birth announcements in the local paper. I don’t read it often though so maybe they are still there.

    My guess is that this is just a justification given so parents to be won’t complain and the real reason is that they just don’t want to do it anymore. Print papers are very 20th century and will likely be extinct or near so by my child’s adulthood. Publishers likely can’t afford to print birth annoucements anymore.

  19. Linda Wightman January 2, 2014 at 7:57 am #

    Yet one more confirmation of our children’s conclusion that a hospital is a terrible place to give birth.

    But look at it this way: it’s just the privatization of the birth announcement business. Hospitals and newspapers won’t do it? The Internet allows anyone to be a publisher.

    As a genealogist, I’m really glad former generations announced the births of their children, and not happy at all that official record-holders are making it more and more difficult to get vital records information. On the other hand, our descendants, with access to blogs and social media sites, are going to know a lot more about their ancestors than we can ever find out about ours. (“Well, honey, I’m not sure when and where she was born, but it appears your great-great-great grandmother spent most of her time playing online games.”)

  20. Brian January 2, 2014 at 7:59 am #

    Both of our children were born at Meriter (one of the hospitals mentioned) 2 and 4 years ago. They did not default to publishing announcements, they asked you first, which seemed reasonable. However, the level of security in that hospitals birthing ward is bordering on extreme (but of course, I haven’t been in any others to compare) My wife and baby got matching electric tags as soon as they were born. I remember setting off an alarm, by taking my newborn for a walk while mom was resting, and got within 3 feet of the elevator door…

  21. Crystal January 2, 2014 at 8:04 am #

    When my babies were born, they advised us not to advertise it in the paper. I figured it was good practice for me to smile, say thank you for your concern, and then do exactly what my gut told me to do as a mom.

  22. Sloan44 January 2, 2014 at 8:23 am #

    CRAZY! Birth listings “Set people up as targets that want to steal a baby” is unproven and a statement only a fear mongerer would make. What has been proven is that the “Broad-Brush” offender registry is a vigilante hit list and “Sets people up as targets” that has cost the lives of both registrants and non registrants.

  23. SJH January 2, 2014 at 8:58 am #

    This reminds me of the booklet I brought home from the hospital after having my baby last summer, which contained a whole section devoted to avoiding abduction and included this piece of advice: “Be suspicious of anyone who befriended you during pregnancy.”
    Are you freaking kidding me?! ANYONE? Thanks for the vote of confidence in my judgement, that apparently my husband and I are completely unable to determine true friends from potential baby snatchers. Thanks also for the suspicion you’re trying to direct at the sweet girl from church who went out of her way to get to know me, the new girl in town, while I was largely housebound at 8 months pregnant. Never mind that this girl had a husband and toddler of her own and is fully capable of having more. She befriended a pregnant girl and is therefore obviously a lurking child snatcher in disguise. Be afraid, fledging parents! Be very afraid.

  24. Gary January 2, 2014 at 9:01 am #

    asteroid…earth…now.

  25. Gary January 2, 2014 at 9:02 am #

    by this logic they need to stop posting Obituaries because it will attract necrophiliacs.

  26. Kimberly Herbert January 2, 2014 at 9:03 am #

    This reminds me of 19 -20 years ago when my 2nd cousin had her oldest. She sent me and the rest of the family a link to an online birth notice that the hospital put out – ON THE INTERNET. You know the baby’s name, sex, weight, lenght and a cute little picture.

    A “coworker” (actually a volunteer at the museum) promptly reported me to my boss for looking at the notice. Now just for clarity. I worked for a museum. We had one dial up account in the development office. I, with my local ISP’s permission, was using my own laptop, account, and personal e-mail for museum business. So this wasn’t an issue of using my employer’s bandwidth for personal use.

    She reported me because I was looking at Child Porn. She wouldn’t let it go. According to her all pictures of kids on the internet were child porn and I was a horrible person. She then flipped out when informed the camera I was using was a digital camera that let me put pictures on the computer. According to her that meant every picture I took of kids at the museum was porn, and every picture of the exhibit was piracy because they were on the computer. She refused to be reasonable – so she ended up fired from a volunteer position.

    The ironic part was she was mad that I had kicked a woman out of an exhibit, who was taking detailed pictures of the wooden sculptures for the experess purpose of having a friend copy them. I was just so mean to do that because the sculptures (which some were for sell) were just to expensive. The artist was ripping people off you know.

  27. BL January 2, 2014 at 9:15 am #

    @Kimberly Herbert
    “According to her all pictures of kids on the internet were child porn and I was a horrible person.”

    Where on earth (or any other planet) does this logic come from? What about children seen on TV or in movies? What about children seen just in everyday life? What’s so special about the internet that it transforms images of children into “porn”?

  28. Sandy Rozek January 2, 2014 at 9:27 am #

    Maybe someone else posted this already–I haven’t read all the comments yet–but for those figuring percentage of risk, you can’t use the 132 abducted figure. You must use the four cases that were linked to birth announcements. I don’t know if a calculation can be done for something so minuscule.

  29. Gary January 2, 2014 at 9:30 am #

    “In truth, I suspect some HIPAA inspector called it a violation of patient privacy, which it likely is unless the parents consent.”

    That’s not how HIPAA works.

  30. Beth January 2, 2014 at 9:31 am #

    I live in the area serviced by these two hospitals, and this newspaper. Parents didn’t have to pay for the announcements, and the parents had to give permission for the newspaper listing, which included parents names and son/daughter. Not even a hometown. I suppose with internet research tools a kidnapper could locate a family if the word “son” inflamed their interest, but…..how ridiculous.

    And “hospitals discourage parents from posting birth news on social media?” What is social media for if not to announce and celebrate joyous events?

  31. Suzanne January 2, 2014 at 9:34 am #

    4 abductions over those 4 years were linked to birth announcements, how about using some information that isn’t old enough to buy a beer? Oh wait, it is probably because that is the last time they could find that many. How much less impressive (and at 1 a year it’s not very impressive to start with) would it have been if it had only been 1 baby in a 4 year period, or 0 babies, who’s abduction could be linked with the birth announcement?

  32. CLamb January 2, 2014 at 9:53 am #

    “In general, birth announcements in newspapers are not endorsed by most experts,” All experts or experts on something in particular?

  33. backroads January 2, 2014 at 10:02 am #

    I was given all the anti predator advice when I took my baby home. The nurse who presented it also included her personal opinion it was all ridiculous.

    What gets me most is the attack on the community. Yes, print is dying and I get that, but I still miss the social quality of papers. Who was married, who was born. Papers used to print the most local of news. It is a gone era.

  34. Rebecca January 2, 2014 at 10:36 am #

    AND of course, many of these new parents are posting pictures on Facebook.Some right in front of the house..

  35. Buffy January 2, 2014 at 10:50 am #

    @Rebecca, I’m not clear if you’re implying a problem with that? Who are “these new parents”? This article refers to a hospital decision, not a parent decision.

    In general, I guess I haven’t read of a rash of kidnappings because of FB photos or balloons on the mailbox……

  36. Buffy January 2, 2014 at 10:54 am #

    “Compare that with 9.1% of US Presidents that have been assassinated. And yet we continue to allow election results to be published.”

    Ah, but Presidents are adults, and we don’t care about adults. We must only think of the children!!!

  37. SteveS January 2, 2014 at 11:11 am #

    I would be interested to know what the abduction rate from hospitals is locally. I don’t recall ever hearing about one in the 27 years I have lived here. The security they had in place when my kids were born (within the last 12 years) was very strict. Is this really a risk? Whoever came up with this policy is either very paranoid or getting paid by the number of policies they can come up with.

  38. Michael January 2, 2014 at 11:14 am #

    20 million plus birth from 1989-1993 and 1 in 5 million of these were kidnapped after a birth announcement was placed (whether the kidnapping is related to these announcements is quite another story…) and you dismiss the real and present danger to newborns? How irresponsible can you be? We sent birth announcements to friends and family members after our daughter was born and 9 years later I still wake up in a sweat at night over the possible dangers from that mistake.

    As for presidents…. not only are they adults, up to now they have also all been males so they obviously are also a imminent threat to every newborn in the USA so they definitely are not all that important to worry about.

  39. Helen January 2, 2014 at 11:24 am #

    It’s ironic that the time period 1989 – 1993 is mentioned as being the “worst” (relatively speaking!) for abductions – and then the “senior analyst for infant abduction cases” (seriously?) says that the world is different than it was 25 years ago. 1989 was exactly 25 years ago – her own stats tell us that things are safer now!

  40. Papilio January 2, 2014 at 11:45 am #

    “Wrap your head in a towel before you read this, so when you bang your head against the wall it won’t hurt as much”

    Thanks for the advice (you have experience I take it? 😀 ), but I just had to laugh at these people…

    The phenomenon of hospitals publishing birth announcements for the community is new to me though. Here a very large percentage of births are home births, so hospitals wouldn’t have a complete record anyway, and parents (or grand-parents) put their own announcement in the paper, or not, which is more personal of course than just a list.

    The genealogists can only find out who their ancestors are, because, indeed, birth records are not public until 100 years later, death records are sealed for 50 years I think, and I forgot about the weddings. So finding out who your living relatives are is impossible via official records.
    On a related note: I always thought the police in TV series used some police-only database in which they could easily see which local John Smith (or whatever) they were looking for because ‘this one is 81, that one is only 15, so it must be the one in [town]’ – until I discovered the USA just puts that information in the phone directory. So much for turning 49 every year!

  41. pentamom January 2, 2014 at 11:50 am #

    Wow, competition is starting early for “dumbest paranoid idea of the year.”

  42. Carly January 2, 2014 at 11:57 am #

    I think it has been more common for papers to stop publishing birth announcements. They don’t where I live now, and they don’t do it in my hometown anymore.

    I don’t at all agree with the rationale listed in the article for stopping birth announcements. However I think there are a lot of legitimate reasons people might not want that information published in the paper….in the past I’m not sure people always knew how to opt out of such a practice.

  43. pentamom January 2, 2014 at 11:58 am #

    “I also think the whole putting the balloons on the mailbox or the sign comes off as a little self important. Not bashing anyone that does it, but honestly do you really think people care you just had a baby? Probably random strangers do not. ”

    What about the neighbors? I care that a baby is born to my neighbors, if I know they’re expecting one, although I’m not really close enough to them to be someone they’d call to let know. I really think that’s what it’s for, not “random strangers.”

    Here the birth announcements are with the “vital statistics” that also include marriage licenses, divorces, and bankruptcy judgments. They’re free and considered an official public announcement, but I think you can ask that any of them not be published for yourself.

    “That’s not how HIPAA works.”

    The way that HIPAA works is that everyone has become completely paranoid about whether they’re allowed to share any kind of medical information for someone else. So I don’t think it’s completely wrong to suggest that there might be a connection with HIPAA in some of these cases, even if it’s not actually required by HIPAA, although that was not the reason given in this instance.

  44. E January 2, 2014 at 12:14 pm #

    @Gary — you joke about Obits, but a few years ago when attending a funeral, someone mentioned that they had arranged for someone to be at the home of the deceased because people had begun to get robbed because seeing an Obit was sure sign of when the house would be vacant as all family members would be attending the services. I had never heard of that — have no idea what that’s based on or if that’s “a thing”.

  45. Sarah January 2, 2014 at 12:20 pm #

    “Putting balloons on the mailbox”

    There was once a time when a random neighbor would cook you a casserol and leave it on the doorstep with a nice note. I guess that’s frowned upon now too.

  46. BL January 2, 2014 at 12:20 pm #

    “What is social media for if not to announce and celebrate joyous events?”

    It’s there to provide your personal information to advertisers.

    I make a lot of sarcastic comments on this board, but that wasn’t one of them.

  47. Jenny Islander January 2, 2014 at 12:29 pm #

    One of the many reasons why I limit my Internet socializing to posting on other people’s blogs, without signing in if possible. If I want a purple-crosshatched twirlywidget, I will go and find one.

  48. John S Green January 2, 2014 at 12:31 pm #

    It’s gotta be The Onion!

  49. TM January 2, 2014 at 12:31 pm #

    There was once a time when a random neighbor would cook you a casserol and leave it on the doorstep with a nice note. I guess that’s frowned upon now too.

    Of course, after all, my brother’s cousin’s roomate’s sister’s girlfiend’s dad knew I guy who worked at a car dealership who had a customer who heard from his doctor that a patient of his once knew a woman who’s mother had a child who’s brother was murdered by a spring loaded razor blade in a lasagna that a random stranger in a a run down white van with “free puppies” painted on the side left at their door step. Totally true story. We must protect our kids from strangers with assault casseroles.

  50. JJ January 2, 2014 at 12:44 pm #

    SJH, your story about the booklet might be the best (that is to say, “worst”) example of “worst first” thinking I have ever heard of. As if new parents don’t have enough to worry about. This hits them right at a time when they are feeling most vulnerable and susceptible to taking advice, whether good or bad. I am glad you could see through it.

  51. Meghan January 2, 2014 at 1:08 pm #

    My favorite part of that, I think, is that they’re using stats from 1989 – 1993 to back up their argument, and then saying that the world is very different than it was 25 years ago.

    Well, when was 1989? Sorry, what’s that? 25 years ago? The world’s a very different place now–so maybe we can stop overreacting to statistics that are two decades past their expiration date.

  52. Casey January 2, 2014 at 1:16 pm #

    Love the towel advice, Lenore! If hospitals were really serious about newborn safety after discharge, though, they would prohibit new parents from driving their new babies home. Car accidents are, after all, the leading cause of injury and death to kids.

    They could create an educational booklet explaining to new moms and dads how to disguise their newborn as a sack of groceries, small dog, or potted plant on the walk home, so as not to attract the attention of infant-snatching pedestrians.

  53. Donna January 2, 2014 at 1:19 pm #

    “until I discovered the USA just puts that information in the phone directory.”

    Huh? No sure where you got that information Papilio. I’ve been to all but a handful of states and I’ve never seen anyone’s age or date of birth in a phone book. I suppose that it could be done someplace but never any place that I frequented.

  54. lollipoplover January 2, 2014 at 1:37 pm #

    “Our world is so different now than it was 25 to 30 years ago”.
    Yeah. No one reads the newspaper anymore.
    It’s mostly used to line hamster cages. People get most news online. Baby arrivals are announced on Facebook every minute so you’d think an explosion in abductions with the speed of news. No? More babies die from being shaken and abused than ever did by random abductions. Educate parents, don’t instill fear and paranoia.

    And why do we need a senior analyst for infant abduction cases? I’d much rather see funding for early childhood parenting education vs. number crunchers so out of touch with reality. Cultures all over the world have announced births since the beginning of time. Get a grip.

  55. Donna January 2, 2014 at 1:43 pm #

    “At least 290 babies have been abducted in the U.S. since 1983, including 132 at health care facilities, according to the center.”

    Well we can be certain that it was absolutely NOT the newspaper birth announcement that lead to the 132 abductions from health care facilities since I have never heard of birth announcements being printed so simultaneous with the birth that the baby is still in the hospital when the birth announcement comes out.

    So that means 158 babies have been abducted in 30 years that could potentially be connected to birth announcements (or balloons on mailboxes for that matter). Of those, a mere 4, the most recent 20 years ago, have been connected in some way to birth announcements. Sounds like a problem of epidemic proportions to me.

    “Four cases, from 1989 to 1993, were linked by law enforcement to birth announcements, the center says.”

    How connected to birth announcements? Was it someone who knew the parents and saw the announcement or a stranger who saw a random announcement and tracked down the parents to steal the baby? Knowing criminals as well as I do, the first scenario is far more likely than the latter. You really need to look closely at your life if you are truly worried that someone that you know would track down your baby and kidnap it upon seeing a birth announcement in the paper. Something like this would be a concern of mine and I would never post a birth announcement, but I am in a somewhat unique position of associating very regularly with known criminals who may or may not be happy with me at any given moment.

  56. J.T. Wenting January 2, 2014 at 1:44 pm #

    “Robin: our hospital are virtually impossible to abduct babies from. They put bracelets on their ankles and an alarm goes off if they leave the newborn ward and all doors lock and it goes into lockdown. ”

    what about nurses who actually know and care about the families and won’t let a baby leave unless it’s with the real parents?
    Sheesh.

  57. Gary January 2, 2014 at 1:46 pm #

    “but honestly do you really think people care you just had a baby?”

    If you live as a shut in and no one on your street knows who you are or if you are the kind of person who freaks if a kids ball lands in your yard then no…

    OTOH is you know your neighbors, have good relations with them and are not basically a dick then yes, yes they would be pleased for you.

    “And why do we need a senior analyst for infant abduction cases?”

    If you think I am going to trust some Junior Analyst, a transfer fresh out of Purchasing, someone from the mail room, or worse yet an intern with this sort of important information you’re crazy.

  58. CrazyCatLady January 2, 2014 at 2:45 pm #

    Well, they seem to be holding true to form – no “First Baby of the Year” items in their paper. Which is all over my local paper.

  59. Jessi January 2, 2014 at 2:53 pm #

    When I had my daughter 12 years ago, the hospital sent in a special person who went room to room telling new parents to absolutely not put any ‘welcome baby’ or ‘congratulations’ signs in our yard, on our car, or in the paper because someone would come kidnapp my brand new baby.
    Seriously.
    The hospital PAID someone to do that.

  60. RobC January 2, 2014 at 6:20 pm #

    What next? Only letting people take their babies home in the dead of night with a police escort?

  61. Greg Allan January 2, 2014 at 6:30 pm #

    BL said

    Where on earth (or any other planet) does this logic come from? What about children seen on TV or in movies? What about children seen just in everyday life? What’s so special about the internet that it transforms images of children into “porn”?

    Some primitive cultures believe that photos steal the souls of the subjects. In the west we are much more evolved.

  62. Linda Wightman January 2, 2014 at 6:31 pm #

    “The genealogists can only find out who their ancestors are, because, indeed, birth records are not public until 100 years later, death records are sealed for 50 years I think, and I forgot about the weddings.”

    It depends on where you live, Papilio. Where is your information from? I’ve seen different rules from different states (California is particularly nice for genealogists), but none that bad, at least for relatives.

  63. maggie January 2, 2014 at 6:54 pm #

    This does NOT stop abductions. Seriously? This is idiotic.

    1-People are posting newborn photos on Facebook within minutes of birth. They tweet and share and email them to everyone they know. Every DAY this is happening across the US. Have abductions gone up? NO.

    2-People who want to steal a baby don’t need birth announcements. Just go to any busy maternity hospital on any given day. Guess what? Lots of babies!

    3-Improved alarm systems where they tag babies immediately at birth with near-impossible to remove bracelets that put a hospital in lock-down when someone tries to remove a newborn.

    The kid is more likely to die in a car accident on the way home than be abducted. Yet we let parents drive with newborns. OMG, this must be stopped! *sarcasm*

  64. bmj2k January 2, 2014 at 8:20 pm #

    This makes perfect sense. Without birth announcements, it would appear as if there were no babies born in the hospital. Therefore, with no babies to abduct, no baby abductors will go to the maternity wards, and parents can have their babies born in complete secrecy and safety. The only problem is that they don’t go far enough. If there are no pregnant mothers, why are there lights on? These stealth babies need to be born in complete darkness. And when they leave the hospital, the newborn should be smuggled out in a large briefcase or trench coat. In fact, the newborn baby should never, ever leave the home until they reach 18 and are able to blow their danger whistles when they see a spooky stranger.

  65. Reziac January 2, 2014 at 9:30 pm #

    “Four cases, from 1989 to 1993, were linked by law enforcement to birth announcements.”

    FOUR? in four years?? one a year?! That’s not even statistical noise, let alone an indicator of some terrible risk.

    For comparison, on average in the U.S., about 12 people a year die from rattlesnake bites, and about 14 die from dog attacks. (Another massively overblown risk.)

  66. SOA January 2, 2014 at 9:49 pm #

    not everyone has 550 friends on facebook. I have under 200 and it is all people I talk to regularly and know well. So really it is not a good comparison to compare something being in a paper to being on facebook. A lot of people keep their facebooks locked down like I do.

    I actually would not want my children’s name in the paper. Not because of the random kidnapper that is rare but because of the more common crazy person in your family. My husband’s father is on the sex offender registry for good reason and we have no contact with him. I don’t want that man knowing anything about us.

    I have seen the bows or balloons or signs in our neighborhood and even though I am not a shut in ( I am the one walking my kids to school through the neighborhood while everyone else drives their kids to school) I can honestly say I did not care they just had a baby unless it was one of the few neighbors I do actually talk to. And even then it was just a “Well that’s nice…I did not even know she was pregnant again” or “I already knew because they are on my facebook”.

  67. Havva January 2, 2014 at 10:51 pm #

    Finally found it. I read this article before I was pregnant and it has stuck with me all these years.

    http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2010/02/invasion_of_the_babysnatchers.html#p2

    Two parts really got me. One the profile of a baby snatcher… a young woman desperate for a baby with every intention to raise the kid as her own, a woman who gets caught 90% of the time. Other striking fact; hospital security systems have pushed baby snatching out of hospitals and into parking lots, stores, and homes, where the risk of violence is 4x what it was before.

    So yes the world has changed in 25 years. Our paranoia has made baby snatching more violent.

  68. nadine January 3, 2014 at 3:42 am #

    290 babies have been abducted from 1983. That is thirty years. Only four have been linked to anouncements and all twenty years ago. So apparently the world has changed over the last 25 years. Good for us

  69. Donna January 3, 2014 at 8:14 am #

    “Not because of the random kidnapper that is rare but because of the more common crazy person in your family.”

    So under some theory, a family member, who has so little contact with the family that he can’t find out that you are pregnant and your child’s name from some other relative, will actually read the birth announcements for years on end in hopes that one day you will be in there? And then … ?

  70. Donna January 3, 2014 at 8:23 am #

    I think this goes back to people really need to accept that, while their baby is priceless to them, it is just another kid, no more spectacular than the next, to everyone else on the planet. The world is simply not champing at the bit for YOUR baby such that they will see an announcement that Precious Snowflake was born to Mr. and Mrs. John Smith on February 3 and think “THAT is the one magnificent child that towers above all other children in the whole entire world and I must have her.”

  71. SOA January 3, 2014 at 8:51 am #

    Donna: In my husband’s father’s case he very well might want contact with us. He was cut off by us. He actually does still talk to my husband’s older sister and apparently asks about us. So yeah, he obviously cares and I don’t want him knowing a damn thing about us. I already had to take SIL to task for telling him I was pregnant.

    This to me does kinda go with HIPPA. It is not about safety and more about privacy. If I want someone to know something, I will tell them myself. I don’t need it published in the paper. I don’t need a hospital telling them. I don’t need a relative telling them. I will tell them. If I don’t tell them, then its none of their business and they don’t need to know.

    Same reason whenever we register at the hospital we always register as private. It is not because I am scared someone is going to come kidnap us and hurt us. It is because people are freaking nosey and need to back off. Free range and privacy are two different things and are not related to one another. You can be free range and still be a very private person. I don’t like my business out there for the world to see. Thus why I am not a fan of the balloons and signs in a yard announcing a baby. Thus why I would not want our info published in the paper.

    I did not do a wedding announcement, engagement announcement, baby announcement in the paper. The people I wanted to know about it, already knew and that is all that matters.

  72. Donna January 3, 2014 at 9:37 am #

    Dolly, You missed the point. I didn’t say your father-in-law doesn’t care about information about you. But the people in your family who do talk to him have already told him that you have children and what their names are whether you like it or not. He is not left wondering due to your lack of birth announcement,

    And, frankly, your children’s names are not state secrets. Their names will be listed in yearbooks, phone books, college directories, work websites and a million other public places for the next 80-100 years.

  73. Lauren January 3, 2014 at 9:41 am #

    Also, aren’t babies usually stolen by someone who knows the parents? So an announcement wouldn’t make a difference because if they know the family, they don’t need to read it in the paper. Also, who is still reading a newspaper?

  74. CrazyCatLady January 3, 2014 at 10:49 am #

    SOA, I DO understand where you are coming from. Now, can you see where other people are coming from and why they may want the option of having the paper publish the news?

    I went to high school in a county where EVERYONE knew everyone else. When I joined 4-H, my step grandmother asked who was in the club with me. I was step-related to 8 of the 10 girls in some close or distant form. Everyone grew up there, went to high school there, got jobs there. Not everyone was rich enough to send out a notice to the 200 or so distant relatives, high school friends and others that they want to have know about it. The engagement, marriage, birth and death of a person ARE important things in that area. They are things to be applauded and celebrated by the larger community – not hidden away like an illegitimate birth from a century ago. This is a community that by knowing each other, helps each other.

    Yes this was a small town area. But I am willing to bet there are MANY other places like this, be it in row houses in Baltimore, or other more traditionally built places (as opposed to suburbs that sprawl and are willed with newcomers.)

    Why shouldn’t these people have the option of having their child’s birth announced? And with my kids, it was truly an option – I had to sign a form to allow it.

  75. JJ January 3, 2014 at 2:56 pm #

    “I think this goes back to people really need to accept that, while their baby is priceless to them, it is just another kid, no more spectacular than the next, to everyone else on the planet.”

    Donna you are so right. How self centered we have become. Not to mention that the only information given is the date of birth and names. Is someone so likely to fall in love with a specific baby because of his or her precious snowflake name “oh finally a Mackensee Breehannah, that is the baby I must have”.

  76. Papilio January 3, 2014 at 3:01 pm #

    @Donna: Believe me, when I looked up Lenore to see if it was true, her age was mentioned alright… Also there was a whole lot of other information I didn’t ask for, but that could’ve been from some freaky public database that presented its data (or search results? I might have clicked on something thinking it was still the phone book) on the same page as the actual phone book website.
    It was creepy. I felt like I’d kicked in her front door or something :-( Sorry Lenore.

    @Linda: Sorry for the confusion – I was still talking about “here”, which is the Netherlands. Personally I’m glad about that amount of privacy for living people, so I don’t consider these laws ‘bad’.
    It may sound weird to you, but I’ve never thought of genealogists trying to find someone’s offspring, as the ones I know of (of course, due to these limitations) just try to find out who their ancestors were and where they came from.
    So – are you looking for living relatives to get to know them, or because of inheritances, or…?

  77. Donna January 3, 2014 at 3:12 pm #

    Papilio – Oh you mean on the internet. Yes, there are some people search engines that give you extensive information – name, date of birth or age, address, relatives, etc. for free. That information is complied from various public records. I could also get you home ownership information, convictions, any lawsuits, boat ownership and every other piece of public information within about 5 seconds too. That is not a phone book.

    In America, when talking about “phone books,” we usually are referring to rather antiquated yellow books that get delivered to our houses every year and list the phone number and address of everybody in the local calling area. Those do not list dates of birth.

  78. SOA January 3, 2014 at 5:30 pm #

    Oh don’t get me wrong. I think the option to put a baby announcement in the paper should always be allowed. You might have to pay for it, but if you are willing to shell out the money to put it in there, then you should be able to. If the paper does not want to do them for free anymore for whatever reason, I have to support that as it is their paper and they are doing it for free. It may just not be profitable anymore to them to do it for free and it was a way to cut costs. But then own that and not make it about kidnapping.

    but you still should have the option to buy a billboard, newspaper ad, whatever you want should you feel the desire.

    Just like people like me should have the option of opting out of it.

  79. Papilio January 4, 2014 at 1:51 pm #

    @Donna: Oh! You thought I talked about a physical book…!
    But I started by mentioning TV-series police looking in what I thought was a database only they could access – and those aren’t printed – and the phrase I originally used was ‘phone directory’ – or is that also usually an actual book?
    In that case I understand the confusion 😀

  80. Donna January 4, 2014 at 4:32 pm #

    Papilio – Language is fun. A “phone directory” in the US would refer to a list of phone numbers. It is most often used in the context of a list of contact information for a specific entity (and even more commonly would just be referred to as a “directory”). For example, if you wanted to talk to Bill Gates, you would look his number up in the Microsoft directory. A reference to “the phone directory” without a specific context would most commonly be interpreted as the phone book. At least for my generation and above. Possibly younger folks who grew up with the internet, cell phones and little knowledge actual phone books would have understood your reference better.

  81. pentamom January 4, 2014 at 9:12 pm #

    “Just like people like me should have the option of opting out of it.”

    My oldest child is 23 years old. At least for that long, people have had that option, and I suspect it goes back long before that. So individuals wanting to keep it out of the paper for whatever reason is a non-issue. That has nothing to do with the crazy paranoid idea that nobody’s information should be printed for “safety” reasons.

  82. Beth January 4, 2014 at 11:21 pm #

    I had my first child 27 years ago at a hospital in the city served by this paper – Madison, WI. We were asked if we wanted the birth announcement to be printed in the paper. I assume that it’s continued that way in the 27 years hence and that parents have always had the option of saying ‘no’.

  83. Greg Allan January 7, 2014 at 2:19 am #

    So, Lenore, if you remember Bendigo this is what happens here…

    Babies gallery: Meet our latest arrivals

  84. Julia January 15, 2014 at 3:54 pm #

    Never mind that 90% of these complainers will go straight to facebook with pics, announcements, and all the details.