By Caroline Colarusso
In recent years Massachusetts has had the dubious distinction of leading the nation with the highest rate of child abuse as reported by the federal government. For every 1000 children in Massachusetts 23.3 are victims of child abuse. In 2015 in Massachusetts there were 80,435 total referrals for child abuse and neglect in 2015. Over 90% of cases reported were due to neglect while other cases are reports of physical and sexual abuse. The majority of children are abused are under the age of one. Infants are most vulnerable. As a mother, this deeply troubles me.
Child abuse continues to grow despite the state’s efforts to try to deal with it. Many of us remember the 2013 tragedy when the Department of Children and Families failed to track and monitor a Fitchburg preschooler — Jeremiah Oliver. There have been other children impacted in the Commonwealth’s DCF failures. We wish it weren’t true. Child abuse is a problem that needs tackling in Massachusetts.
There are a host of contributing factors consistent with instances of child abuse. The Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children reports that children whose parents abuse drugs and alcohol are three times more likely to experience abuse and 4 times more likely to experience neglect compared to children whose parents do not abuse drugs and alcohol. Child abuse is another by-product of substance abuse, and more reason we need to continue to discourage additional drug use. The Department of Youth and Families Health and Human Services stated: “officials across the nation have reported that parental drug abuse, mental health issues, and domestic violence are contributing to increases in child abuse and neglect.”
Child abuse contributes to the incarceration rate. 14% of all men in prison and 36% of women in prison having been abused as children. This is twice the rate that of the general population. There is growing evidence on child abuse that links family relationships to increased instances of child abuse. Fatherlessness, abandonment, and children born out of wedlock are other factors. The breakdown of the American family has resulted in socio-economic and cultural impacts that we are seeing evidenced in our communities and in our school systems.
The Massachusetts Society for the Prevention Against Cruelty to Children according to their website “provides pregnancy and parenting support, clinical mental health counseling and care coordination, adoptive and foster parent support, and adoption services. They are a division of Eliot Community Human Services, and their services are part of a continuum of care committed to the unique needs of a child and his or her family. Their phone number is (617) 983-5800 If you know anyone who needs assistance, please urge them to make the call. They have 4 Massachusetts locations not including Boston.
Caroline Colarusso is the Republican State Committeewoman for the 5th Middlesex District and can be reached by phone at (781)438-5720 or by email at ContactCarolineforinfo@gmail.com