Don't Want Your Baby? Lock It in This Box with HolesS

Concerned about the safety of abandoned children, Cape Town's Kim Highfield installed a "baby safe" in a community center. It's a perforated movie rental return box with electronic rigging and a lock, basically. Times-Live reports,

Less than 10 seconds after a baby is placed in the metal structure, which is lined with a baby blanket and pillow, an alarm is triggered inside the building.

Highfield is then alerted by SMS and fetches the baby.

Child abandonment is a crime in South Africa, but poverty and poor health care drive thousands of abandonments every year, anyway. A "baby bin" at a Johannesburg charity has saved 101 babies since 2007, but officials worry about the logistics...

Should a mother or father leave their baby in the safe, it would create a huge legal problem. Firstly, you have to prove that the baby was abandoned. Medical checks would have to be conducted. You would have to check for HIV/AIDS, for example.

Don't Want Your Baby? Lock It in This Box with Holes

...as well as the creep factor:

The baby will definitely be traumatised by this. It would be easier for the mother to leave the baby at the hospital and sign the necessary forms there.

Highfield says leaving a baby in a safe is better than leaving it on a doorstep, exposed to the elements and waiting around for someone to notice it. The critical question, then, is whether baby bins encourages anonymous abandonment or mitigates its risks. What would have happened to Johannesburg's 101 baby bin orphans, had the bin not been there?

And if it turns out the bins do more good than harm—can South Africa get over the horror inherent to having lock boxes for babies in public places? [TimesLive, MSNBC, image via Getty]