“There Will Be No Help…”: Newborn Abandonment and Baby Hatching

“There Will Be No Help…”: Newborn Abandonment and Baby Hatching

Bezrukova O.N.

Cand. Sci. (Sociol.), Acting Head of the Department of youth sociology and youth policy, Saint Petersburg State University. Saint Petersburg, Russia. o.bezrukova@spbu.ru

Samoilova V.А.

Cand. Sci (Psychol.), Assoc. Prof., Saint-Petersburg State University, Saint-Petersburg, Russia v.samojlova@spbu.ru

Shishkina E.V.

Cand. Sci. (Sociol.), Assoc. Prof., Saint Petersburg State University, Saint Petersburg, Russia. e.shishkina@spbu.ru

Yashina M.N.

Cand. Sci. (Sociol.), Assoc. Prof., Saint Petersburg State University, Saint Petersburg, Russia. mnya@mail.ru

ID of the Article:

The study was funded by RFBR, research project No. 19-011-00543

For citation:

Bezrukova O.N., Samoilova V.А., Shishkina E.V., Yashina M.N. “There Will Be No Help…”: Newborn Abandonment and Baby Hatching. Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya [Sociological Studies]. 2021. No 5. P. 47-57


The article summarizes attitudes regarding abandonment of newborn children and baby hatches (or baby boxes). We have interviewed 2,000 respondents in 8 federal districts of the Russian Federation, conducted 27 expert interviews and 15 focus groups (N = 142) with managers, specialists, and parents. The share of baby box supporters makes 67.2% with the opponents’ share reaching 22.5%. We point out that the opinions of the community in general, the experts, and the parents on the reasons for newborn abandonment mostly coincide. We have concluded that a set of social and economic, psychological, as well as objective and subjective reasons lead to newborn abandonment. Various stereotypes about deviant and asocial behavior of abandoning mothers as well as stereotypes about their social alienation result in a simplified understanding of the issue. We insist that pregnant women in critical circumstances require comprehensive assistance on the part of the state and society which can work as preventive measures. We conclude that a comprehensive state response to the crisis symptoms is needed at all stages of parenting that should take into account the goal of humanization measures intended to support mothers and children.

motherhood; pregnant women; newborn infant abandonment; infanticide; child abuse; baby box; social orphanhood


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Content No 5, 2021