DA reports troubling trend: child abuse reports have declined as risk factors have increased

The Suffolk District Attorney's Office is working to provide resources for families who may be seeing child abuse or neglect during a time of anxiety and home confinement.

BOSTON — The Suffolk District Attorney’s Office is working to provide resources for families who may be seeing child abuse or neglect during a time of anxiety and home confinement.

DA Rachael Rollins says her office “assists thousands of victims every year by providing advocacy, case management, referrals to resources, and support to navigate the criminal justice system.”

“No victims are more vulnerable than children,” her office said. “And during this pandemic, with social distancing, sheltering at home, and no schools in session there may be an increase in victimization due to increased physical isolation and lack of interaction with mandated reporters who could notice indicators of abuse.”

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According to the DA, there has been a decline in reports of child abuse to her office and this is raising concerns.

“From Mid-March through Mid-May this year we have received 234 child abuse referrals, which is a 39 percent drop from the 386 received in the same period of 2019. Just as concerning is in the same time period the number of cyber tips, or online crimes against children, almost doubled to 31 in 2020 from the same period in 2019,” Rollins said.

In this time, many people are dealing with heightened job insecurity, housing insecurity and food insecurity, all of which can be accelerants for violence and abuse.

The Suffolk District Attorney’s Office is working to provide resources for families who may be seeing child abuse or neglect during a time of anxiety and home confinement.

  • Conducting the first all-remote multidisciplinary Tele-Forensic Interview with a young survivor of sexual abuse in early April and since then, conducting approximately 29 more.
  • Collaborating with the Children’s Advocacy Center of Suffolk County to create a community safety net guide (#CommunitySafetNet) to learn how to protect and support children at risk.
  • Informing the community by social media, our resources on our website, and flyers at food distribution and other volunteer sites that we are open and available to help.
  • Maintaining consistent communication with victims to identify community resources they can access.
  • Promoting best practices for internet use by youth. The present risks that exist with various apps, social media and gaming should be discussed with children regularly, especially at this time in our lives.  Our STOP BLOCK TALK program has simple and memorable ways for students to navigate the risks associated with these platforms.

MORE RESOURCES:

In addition to our CACs, the following are good places to reach out for assistance:

Child-at-Risk Hotline – 24/7*To report abuse or neglect, call the Child-at-Risk Hotline at any time of the day or night.(800) 792-5200

Massachusetts Office for Victims AssistanceMOVA offers crisis intervention, referrals to programs and services, and information to help victims better understand the criminal justice system.(617) 586-1340*

Office of the Child AdvocateThe OCA works to ensure state agencies provide children with quality services, and that children receiving services are protected from harm. OCA can listen to concerns, help navigate the child welfare and juvenile justice system, and provide information on resources and services.(866) 790-3690*

Llamanos Statewide Spanish Language Helpline24/7 Spanish Language Sexual Assault Hotline for Massachusetts.(800) 223-5001*For more information on Rape Crisis Center please click here.

LINK-KID Referral for Trauma-Informed ServicesA centralized referral system for parents, caregivers, and child-serving professionals to refer children, ages 0-18, who might benefit from evidence -based trauma treatments in Massachusetts1-855-LINK-KID (546.5543)*

Parental Stress Hotline- 24/7A toll-free, confidential helpline for parents who need to discuss issues related to their children. Trained volunteer counselors offer support, empathy, encouragement, information, referrals, and crisis intervention.(800) 632-8188*

Victim Rights Law CenterA nonprofit law center dedicated solely to serving the legal needs of rape and sexual assault victims.(617) 399-6720*Legal assistance intake line: x19Spanish intake line: x35

Civil Legal Aid for Victims of CrimeThe Civil Legal Aid for Victims of Crime Initiative offers free legal help to crime victims who live or have a civil legal problem in Massachusetts.To find your regional CLAVC Legal Aid or Statewide CLAVC program please click here

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