By Bob Katzen
This bill Would allow minors, ages 13 to 17 years old, to appear in court, without a parent, guardian or attorney when filing for a protective order. Under current law, these minors are required to be accompanied by one of the above.
Supporters say that these requirements impede the child’s ability to obtain immediate relief from abuse, dating violence and trafficking. They note the bill will provide increased access to the court and open a pathway to resources, including the Department of Children and Families and other advocate services, that can help keep a child safe.
“I have filed this legislation for many years. It was originally meant to go hand in hand with my legislation to ban child marriage, which passed in 2022,” said sponsor Rep. Kay Khan (D-Newton). “According to the Department of Children and Families, Massachusetts has one of the highest rates of child abuse and neglect in the country. This problem has grave consequences both immediately and for years to come, as research has found long lasting physical and mental health issues as a result of abuse during childhood. I’m very glad the Legislature acted to ban child marriage during the last session, and now I think it’s time to allow minors to file protective orders as well.”