By: Editorial Staff, Date: June 22nd, 2022
Massachusetts is one of the nation’s toughest law enforcers for child abuse reporting with menacing fines and other penalties for the failure to report suspected cases.
However, child abuse and neglect cases in the state have recently piled up to 12, 818 reports resulting in a 4.3% increase from the prior fiscal year, according to a new report from the Massachusetts District Attorneys (MDAA).
“The pandemic put a complete halt to the normal flow of child welfare cases, from initial reports through to treatment programs and court procedures,” Rachel Gwaltney, executive director of the Children’s League of Massachusetts, stated.
Indeed, the pandemic has led to a more complicated legal process, implicating the number of cases initiated, referrals, investigations, and cases disposed of in court. While some cases do not go forward due to several reasons, including lack of evidence of jurisdiction, unknown offender, the expired statute of limitations, psychological trauma to victims, and uncooperative family members involved.
To streamline the case referral process and improve state policy on this matter, the MDAA calls for more funding for prosecutors, investigators, and victim-witness advocates. Meanwhile, advocates point out that support programs such as extended unemployment benefits and expanded child tax credits help alleviate family stresses that often cause child abuse.