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Child abandonment is the illegal relinquishment of rights and claims to one’s children with the intention of never resuming or reasserting guardianship. The term is most commonly used to describe a child’s physical abandonment, but it can also refer to extreme cases of neglect and emotional abandonment, such as when parents fail to give financial and emotional support for their children for a long time. A foundling is a youngster that has been abandoned (as opposed to a runaway or an orphan). Baby dumping occurs when parents abandon a child under the age of 12 months in a public or private location with the intention of terminating their child’s care. In the United States, child abandonment is illegal, and depending on the details of the case and the laws of the state where it occurred, it may be punished as a misdemeanor or felony criminal violation. Providing sex education and family planning services such as contraception and abortion to those who cannot or do not want to have children can assist prevent them from becoming pregnant in the first place.

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