May 1, 2009

Legislative Bill 253: New Juvenile Code, Change Child Abuse Reporting and Registry

Senator Brad Ashford

L.B. 253 is 320 pages long and adds 218 new sections of law to Nebraska’s Juvenile Code. Among other things it would:

  • Redefine abuse and neglect in vague terms that would create the potential for arbitrary enforcement. The new definitions of neglect in sections 5 and 38 are expanded and include mental and emotional “harm” as elements of “abuse”.
  • Allow law enforcement to take children into emergency custody without a court order, “whenever it reasonably appears that a situation or set of circumstances exist which create an imminent risk of serious harm.” Serious harm is defined in such a way as to allow for potentially arbitrary enforcement. Police officers are not psychologists; however, they would be in the position of having to judge whether a parent’s apparently reasonable disciplinary measures would result in “emotional or mental” harm to the child.
  • Allow the state to procure an abortion for a minor in their temporary custody (potentially even before a hearing has occurred) without parental notice or consent. The bill also prohibits parents from visiting children taken by the state, even where the parent or one of the parents may not be an alleged abuser, unless there are “compelling reasons shown by clear and convincing evidence.”
  • Allows anyone, with the permission of the country attorney, to file a petition alleging that a child is in need of state protection. If a family member doesn’t agree with homeschooling and could get a county attorney to agree that it was potentially causing harm they might be able to file a petition for state protection.
  • Expand the definition of a child increasing the age up to which the juvenile court may have jurisdiction to 25 in some cases.
  • Extend the jurisdiction of juvenile courts to all members of the family regarding an allegation of abuse or neglect.

1/16/2009Referred to Judiciary Committee
1/18/2009Hearing Scheduled for February 25, 2009
2/27/2009L.B. 253 has been withdrawn by its sponsor

HSLDA's Position:

Action Requested:
None at this time.

 Other Resources

E-lert—2/24/2009—Nebraska: Call Judiciary Committee TODAY to Oppose L.B. 253.

Bill Text    (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)

Bill History