Hospital Takes Out Billboard For Birth Announcements, Parents Call ‘Stranger Danger’
Many list the birth of a child among the greatest moments of their lives, so it’s normal to expect they’d want to share it with the world. Some send out cute printed announcements, others stick a sign in the front yard, and some people go even bigger than that, putting their baby’s photo on a billboard for all the city to see. Babble recently asked readers what they thought about a Virginia hospital who’s started announcing newborns on a billboard, and they got some mixed reactions.
Henrico Doctors’ Hospital in Virginia debuted their “Special Delivery Billboard” earlier this month as a way to showcase their newest arrivals. The billboard sits on the side of Interstate-95 near the hospital and broadcasts photos along with infants’ first names.Â Hospital staff abides by privacy laws and takes all the necessary safety precautions before using the photos, including getting the parents’ written permission, never sharing the baby’s last name, and waiting to post the photos until the moms and babies have been discharged.
Even with the precautions, many Babble readers voiced concerns about the billboard, calling it ‘dangerous’ and saying it put infants at ‘unnecessary risk.’ One reader even recounted having to recruit hospital security to look out for her during the birth of her child. From Babble’s Facebook page:
“This could be bad. Like in my situation with my first daughter. Security was on stand by just incase he ‘my ex’ [sic] even tried to come to the hospital. I definitely wouldn’t need it announced to the world with a picture of my daughter’s face.”
In average circumstances, though, a birth announcement billboard is not any more dangerous than mailing an announcement, plastering photos all over social media, or putting a big “new baby” sign in your front yard. All of these things present your baby to the public to varying degrees and you’d have to be pretty out there to think some psychopath is going to see your baby on a billboard and put in all the necessary effort to find and harm your family.
People love to jump on parents for exposing their kids to danger via photos and social media posts, and in some cases they have valid concerns. Weirdos steal photos, kids get turned into memes without permission, and you risk embarrassing your kids in the future. Still, it doesn’t change the fact that the likelihood of your baby being physically harmed because someone saw a photo of them is incredibly small.
Approximately four million babies are born each year in the U.S. and according to the Center For Missing And Exploited Kids, 296 babies younger than six months were abducted…from 1983-2014. That’s an average of nine babies a year. And of those abducted, only 12 out of the whole 296 remain missing and only one was found deceased.
There are no stats for which ones were abducted due to their birth announcements, but you can probably safely assume that number is zero.Â Protecting kids’ safety and privacy is important, but taking parents to task for publicly announcing the birth of their baby is ridiculous. Billboard birth announcements might be extreme or even slightly obnoxious, but they’re certainly not boogeyman bait.