Child abuse is harm to or neglect of a child by an adult or another child. The effects of child abuse go beyond the abused child and extend into our communities. When parents, step-parents grandparents, caregivers and other children physically, sexually, verbally or emotionally assault a child, the injury often has long term consequences on the child's physical and psych-social growth and development. Certain forms of abuse are serious enough to be a crime. Investigation into the claims or injuries that a child presents, is crucial to determine the appropriate course of action to protect and heal the child as well as to keep the child and others safe.

Children who are abused may or may not show physical signs of abuse. According to the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children a child is reported abused or neglected every 8 minutes. Even more concerning is that a child dies before his or her first birthday every day.

Massachusetts law requires many professionals who work with children to notify the Department of Children and Families if they suspect that any child has been, or is at risk of being, abused or neglected.

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;
  • Psychologists, emergency medical technicians, dentists, nurses, chiropractors, podiatrists, optometrists, osteopaths;
  • Public or private schoolteachers, educational administrators, guidance or family counselors;
  • Office of Child Care Services licensors;
  • Day care and child care workers, including any person paid to care for, or work with, a child in any public or private facility, or home or program funded or licensed by the Commonwealth, which provides day care or residential services. This includes child care resource and referral agencies, as well as voucher management agencies, family day care and child care food programs;
  • Social workers, foster parents, probation officers, clerks magistrate of the district courts, and parole officers;
  • Firefighters or police officers;
  • School attendance officers, allied mental health and licensed human services professionals;
  • Psychiatrists, and clinical social workers, drug and alcoholism counselors; and
  • Priests, rabbis, clergy members, ordained or licensed ministers, leaders of any church or religious body, accredited Christian Science practitioners, or a person employed by a church or religious body to supervise, educate, teach, train or counsel a child on a regular basis.

In addition to mandated reporters, anyone who is concerned that a child is being abused or is at risk of abuse can file a report with the Department of Children and Families. Each case of child abuse or neglect is unique. The child who has been hurt is always the victim. If you believe a child may be the victim of abuse or neglect, contact the Child-at-Risk Hotline at 1-800-792-5200

Children and families affected by neglect and abuse may require services to assist in healing both physically and emotionally from the trauma. There are services in the community that are available to children and families. The Children's Advocacy Centers are unique programs that help families affected by abuse.


Please contact your local CAC for guidance: