Child Abuse reports rose in 2016
Suffolk County, MA – District attorneys across the state are seeing an uptick in reports of child abuse and neglect, a jump they say is causing a pinch on already strained resources that are needed to fully investigate the staggering number of incidents.
“These investigations take a lot of work, and they also take an emotional toll on the prosecutors and team that is working on them,” Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley told the Herald. “We are lucky to have a great group of prosecutors, but from time to time I lose them because of fatigue. That’s a loss to me, but also the victims and their families.”
There were 10,917 reports of child abuse or neglect during the 2016 fiscal year, a jump from the 10,624 in the 2015 fiscal year, according an annual report sent by the Massachusetts District Attorneys Association to Gov. Charlie Baker last week.
The Department of Children and Families is the primary source of the referrals, but many reports come from police, victims and their families, according to the report.
Conley and other district attorneys indicated that the increase can be attributed to people being more willing to go to authorities — a major boon for prosecutors trying to tamp down on the crimes.
However, each report requires time-consuming interviews, meetings and possibly criminal charges, all of which require resources.
“These are different than other cases in many respects,” said Middlesex DA Marian T. Ryan, president of the Massachusetts District Attorneys Association. “You’re dealing with a child, you’re dealing with the child’s parents and there is a lot of coordination that is required to connect everyone. That puts a strain on our office.”
In its letter to Baker, the MDAA indicated that prosecutors need more resources to add personnel and fund training.