Prevent Child Abuse in Massachusetts
What is child abuse and neglect in Massachusetts?
According to Massachusetts law, child abuse and neglect are defined as:
Abuse means: The non-accidental commission of any act by a caregiver which causes, or creates a substantial risk of, physical or emotional injury or sexual abuse to a child; or the victimization of a child through sexual abuse or human trafficking, regardless if the person responsible is a caregiver. This definition is not dependent upon location (i.e., abuse can occur while the child is in an out-of-home or in-home setting). DCF defines “sexual abuse” as any non-accidental act by a caregiver upon a child that constitutes a sexual offense under the laws of the Commonwealth or any sexual contact between a caregiver and a child for whom the caregiver is responsible.
Neglect means: Failure by a caregiver, either deliberately or through negligence or inability, to take those actions necessary to provide a child with minimally adequate food, clothing, shelter, medical care, supervision, emotional stability and growth, or other essential care, including malnutrition or failure to thrive; provided, however, that such inability is not due solely to inadequate economic resources or solely to the existence of a handicapping condition.
A “caregiver” can be a child’s parent, step-parent, guardian, or any household member entrusted with the responsibility for a child’s health or welfare. In addition, any other person entrusted with the responsibility for a child’s health or welfare, both in and out of the child’s home, regardless of age, is considered a caregiver. Examples may include: relatives from outside the home, teachers or staff in a school setting, workers at an early education, child care or afterschool program, a babysitter, foster parents, staff at a group care facility, or persons charged with caring for children in any other comparable setting.
According to the Child Welfare League of America, there were 25,092 victims of abuse or neglect in
Massachusetts in 2017, a rate of 18.3 per 1,000 children. Of these children, 93.9% were neglected,
8.8% were physically abused, and 3.4% were sexually abused.
Who is a mandated reporter according to MA state requirements?
According to the MA Mandatory Reporter Guide, Massachusetts law defines the following professionals as mandated reporters:
- Physicians, medical interns, hospital personnel engaged in the examination,
care or treatment of persons, medical examiners;
- Emergency medical technicians, dentists, nurses, chiropractors, podiatrists,
- Public or private school teachers, educational administrators, guidance or family counselors;
- Early education, preschool, child care or after school program staff, including any
person paid to care for, or work with, a child in any public or private facility, home
or program funded or licensed by the Commonwealth, which provides child care or residential services. This includes child care resource and referral agencies, as well
as voucher management agencies, family child care providers and child care food programs;
- Child care licensors, such as staff from the Department of Early Education and Care;
- Social workers, foster parents, probation officers, clerks magistrate of the district
courts parole officers;
- Firefighters and police officers;
- School attendance officers, allied mental health and licensed human services professionals;
- Psychiatrists, psychologists, clinical social workers, drug and alcoholism counselors;
- Persons in charge of a medical or other public or private institution, school or facility or their agents;
- Clergy members, including ordained or licensed leaders of any church or religious body, persons performing official duties on behalf of a church or religious body, or persons employed by a religious body to supervise, educate, coach, train or counsel a child on
a regular basis; and
- The Child Advocate.
How do I report child abuse in Massachusetts?
Any mandated reporter who fails to make required oral and written reports can be punished by a fine of up to $1,000. Any mandated reporter who willfully fails to report child abuse and/or neglect that resulted in serious bodily injury or death can be punished by a fine of up to $5,000 and up to 2½ years in jail, and be reported to the person’s professional licensing authority.
How do I get free online child abuse training for my organization?
Mandated reporters who are licensed by the Commonwealth are required to complete training to recognize and report suspected child abuse and/or neglect. Use the code STAYSAFE to enroll in Creating Safe Environments for Organizations, a free online training class. Leaders in organizations use this free online course to explore child abuse prevention best practices and help prevent child abuse in Massachusetts.
How do I get online child abuse training for myself?
How do I contact the MA Department of Children and Families?
Contact the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families
600 Washington St, 6th Floor
Boston, MA 02111
Disclaimer: Please ensure the information and courses meet requirements for your organization and circumstances and align with what your state Department of Children and Families requires. The state requirements and child abuse and human trafficking statistics listed on this page are current as of May 13th, 2021 to meet the best information available. State requirements may change and it is your responsibility to know your state mandated reporter requirements and the process for online child abuse prevention training. Compass Child Protection Training can not guarantee acceptance by your school, organization, or state Department of Children and Families. If there is a child abuse emergency, call 911 immediately.