DA's Office Offers Training on Recognizing Child Abuse
The following text was provided by the Middlesex District Attorney's Office:
The Middlesex Children’s Advocacy Center, in collaboration with the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office, has revamped and re-launched an online training designed to help those who work with children to recognize and report suspected child abuse, neglect and exploitation, Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone announced July 2.
With the passage of Massachusetts’s Human Trafficking Law, mandated reporters have additional reporting obligations. The updated training includes information about commercial child sexual exploitation and the new reportable conditions.
All mandated reporters who are professionally licensed by the Commonwealth are required by law to receive training on recognizing and reporting suspected child abuse and neglect. The Massachusetts Legislature has designated doctors, nurses, child care providers, teachers, guidance counselors, social workers, police officers and others as mandated reporters.
The online training program, first launched by the MDAO in 2010, remains the only online training available to the public in the state. To date, the training has had more than 20,000 registrants. The free program is available at http://middlesexcac.org/51A-reporter-training.
The training program is now available in 15 languages. The revisions to the training were funded thanks to a grant from the Massachusetts Children’s Alliance.
"This educational training is one more prevention tool that we can use to help reduce incidents of child abuse and neglect,” DA Leone said. “By the very nature of their work, mandated reporters are very often the first people to see signs of child abuse. By continuing to improve and increase access to training, we will ensure that children in Middlesex County remain healthy, safe and secure.”
This online training was designed to help mandated reporters who work in Middlesex County and who work with children who reside in Middlesex County to:
- Understand their legal obligations as mandated reporters
- Recognize possible signs and symptoms of child abuse, neglect and exploitation
- Know how to respond to a child who discloses abuse
- Know how to file a 51A Report
- Understand what happens after a 51A Report is filed
Although anyone who suspects a child is being abused or neglected can and should file a report with the Department of Children and Families (DCF), mandated reporters are required by law to do so. In fiscal year 2011, DCF received over 80,000 reports of abuse and neglect.
It is a crime for mandated reporters to fail to file a 51A Report if, in their professional capacity, they have reasonable cause to believe a child is being abused or neglected.
The Family Protection Bureau was established by District Attorney Gerry Leone after he took office in 2007 and includes the Child Abuse Unit, Domestic Violence Unit and the Elder/Disabled Abuse Unit. The Bureau serves the needs of the children and families in Middlesex County by coordinating overlapping abuse areas among the Units within the Bureau, and working outside the office with the myriad service agencies who help serve and protect vulnerable victim populations. The Child Abuse Unit in particular, works in connection with the Middlesex Children’s Advocacy Center and is dedicated to preventing crime through education and training, as well as enforcement of the laws through investigation and prosecution of crimes of abuse against children with a multi-disciplinary team approach.