30,000 children confirmed as abused or neglected in Massachusetts in 2018
Governor Charles Baker has declared April Child Abuse Prevention Month. The announcement was made on social media as part of the Children’s Trust’s annual “Step up for Kids” event, which normally takes place at the Massachusetts State House but was moved online in response to the coronavirus.
“Child abuse was confirmed in every single city and town across Massachusetts last year. We are concerned about an increase in incidents this year because we know that isolation and stress, which many families are experiencing right now due to the coronavirus pandemic, are correlated with child abuse and neglect. We also know that there are proven strategies to strengthen families and keep kids safe,” said Suzin Bartley, Executive Director of the Children’s Trust, an organization dedicated to ending child abuse and neglect in Massachusetts. “Parenting is hard under even the best of circumstances. With the addition of extreme stress and isolation for so many right now, it is more important than ever to continue to connect with families and to bring awareness to child abuse prevention.”
A recent study by Tufts University published in the American Journal of Public Health showed that Healthy Families Massachusetts, an in-home parenting support and coaching program for young parents, is lowering rates of child abuse in vulnerable populations. The study found that the teen moms enrolled in the program - over 50% of whom were confirmed as abused or neglected in their own childhoods - are less likely to abuse or neglect their own children once they are connected to a Healthy Families home visitor for regular visits and guidance. In response to social distancing guidelines but recognizing the importance of this program, home visitors continue to meet regularly with families enrolled in the program through virtual services such as Zoom and FaceTime. Since March 10, home visitors have conducted 1,741 virtual visits.
The National Child Abuse Hotline reported that March calls to the hotline increased by 20% and text messages to the hotline increased by 400% compared to the same period in 2019. The organization also shared anecdotal information on calls coming in from new parents struggling to manage stress levels as they deal with the current pandemic and associated stressors, social isolation, and infant crying.
Rather than holding an in-person event this year, the Children’s Trust has moved its annual “Step Up for Kids” event online, sharing remarks from parents who have participated in the program and asking people to share information about how to support ending child abuse in Massachusetts.
The Children’s Trust has also provided an access code for free, full access to helpful videos for new parents with practical advice from experts, parents, and grandparents at www.allbabiescry.com with code “COVID19”. Topics include: what's normal about crying, comforting your baby, self-care tips for parents, and how to cope with colic.
“With everything going on right now, we know it is hard for people to focus on anything other than keeping themselves and their families safe and healthy, but there are too many kids who are sheltering in unsafe homes right now. That has to end,” said Bartley. “We are connecting with as many families as our resources will allow to help parents manage the stress and anxiety of this situation. It takes a village to raise a child and that doesn’t stop in a pandemic, we’ve just moved the village online.”
This year’s event is sponsored by WCVB, the Two Ten Footwear Foundation, and Shoes.com.
About the Children’s Trust
The Children’s Trust is on a mission to stop child abuse in Massachusetts. We give parents the tools and resources to build self-confidence and gain lifelong skills to ensure children grow up safe and healthy.
About Two Ten Footwear Foundation
Founded in 1939, the Two Ten Footwear Foundation is the national charitable foundation of the footwear industry. Two Ten brings shoe people together to support each other during times of crisis and to build a community that ensures a bright future for our industry’s workforce. By providing emergency financial assistance, scholarships, counseling services and community building programs, Two Ten changes the lives of thousands of footwear employees in the United States every year. For more information, please visit www.twoten.org.
Shoes.com makes it easy, fun and affordable for everyone to find shoes they love. We're driven by the belief that no matter what your journey, having the right pair of shoes can make all the difference. Every day we work to ensure that you find the perfect pair of shoes. That includes bringing you more than one million styles from over 800 of the best brands, through a seamless shopping experience on any device. Founded in 2000 and headquartered in Charlestown, Massachusetts, Shoes.com has been trusted by millions of customers for almost two decades. In 2016, we were acquired by Walmart’s US eCommerce division. With their support, we've greatly expanded and enhanced our ability to do what Shoes.com has always done: deliver a great shoe-shopping experience.