April 2020

  While our MassKids office is closed, we want you to know we are working every day to keep Massachusetts children safe and to protect them from abuse. We hope you will support our work during this critical period. Here are highlights of current efforts.

Massachusetts Parent Resource Guide:

Caring for Children During the COVID-19 Pandemic 

   The unprecedented crisis from COVID-19 has resulted in the closure of schools, after-school programs, day-care centers, and youth-serving organizations. Parents may be working from home while helping homeschool children, filing for unemployment or going without any income at all if they are not eligible. Many are scrambling to find childcare while risking their lives performing "essential jobs" in their communities.

  With the added emotional and financial stress and lack of access to usual outside support from educators, social workers, childcare workers, after-school program staff, and counselors at youth-serving organizations, parents are being challenged to cope with the even greater demands the pandemic is placing on everyone.

  To raise awareness about the increased risk to children of abuse and neglect during this time, and to provide support to parents and other caregivers to help keep children safe , MassKids has produced the Massachusetts Resource Guide for Parents and Caregivers: Caring For Children During the COVID-19 Pandemic. The Guide is being distributed to school leaders throughout the state through the MA Association of School Superintendents and other networks serving families.

  During this period of social distancing, we encourage parents to stay connected virtually with outside support systems and reach out if they need help. Connect with and offer support, if possible, to a family who may be experiencing stresses. Click below to download the Guide, and share it with the parents in your life.


Kathryn Robb, a MassKids Board Member, survivor of child sexual abuse, and key leader in the successful reform of Massachusetts’ Statute of Limitations laws, shares her personal view about the consequences of stay-at-home orders for children living with abuse. As Executive Director of CHILD USAdvocacy, Kathryn is fighting to pass meaningful child sexual abuse legislation all across the country.

In her latest piece published in Verdict, Kathryn warns:

    “Kids who are stuck at home during this uncertain time may have bigger problems than boredom and lack of access to healthy meals. The research tells us that about 90 percent of children who are sexually abused know their abuser.” (Nearly a third of those who abuse are family members, including parents, stepparents, grandparents, uncles, and older siblings.)

  She continues: “For the child experiencing this type of abuse, being out of the home regularly is a version of safe and necessary distancing. To those children, the home is infected; school, athletics, and extracurricular activities become the layers of personal protective equipment. Without those protective activities, children are at greater risk."

Click here to read “When Children Stay at Home – A COVID-19 Consequence.


Lifelines for Students At Risk of Abuse

For the first time ever, rape crisis hotlines across the country are reporting a significant increase in calls from children and youth. The vast majority of these callers report they are living with the person who is hurting them. For many children, lack of access to their teachers, school nurses, social workers, counselors, and coaches means they may not have anyone outside their home they can confide in. As a result, reports of child abuse and neglect to the Department for Children and Families (DCF) have fallen sharply since stay-at-home orders were issued.

  Before the pandemic, MassKids had developed a Student Safety Poster to encourage students who feel unsafe to tell

a trusted adult or call the Child-at-Risk line. Endorsed by the MA Association of School Superintendents and the MA School Nurse Organization, over 500 posters (18"x24") were posted in schools across the state in January.

  Since physical distribution of the remaining 4,500 posters to all 1,850 public schools is on hold during the pandemic, MassKids is sending the electronic 8.5"x11" flyer version of the poster to schools. We are encouraging them to post it on their web homepages, and send it directly to students, if possible, to let children know that even during this isolating period, schools are serious about protecting their students from any form of abuse.

    Download the Student Safety Flyer and distribute it widely to your school.


Protecting Vulnerable Infants During the Crisis

  Infants and children under 3 are at greatest risk for injuries and death from child abuse. Abusive Head Trauma caused by shaking or impact injuries are the most frequent forms of this trauma. A third of infants who are shaken or thrown against a hard surface, e.g. crib mattress, pillow, couch, etc., die from their injuries. A third suffer intellectual disabilities, seizures, blindness, deafness, paralysis and speech deficits.

  The COVID-19 crisis is an especially stressful time for expecting parents as they anticipate birthing their babies in hospitals coping with the demands of serving infected patients. There are concerns about whether they or their babies will be safe from the virus when in the hospital. Knowing that husbands, partners and other family members may not be present during labor and delivery further increases stresses. Relatives and friends who would normally surround them with physical support during the weeks and months after giving birth may be absent. These stresses can deprive parents of critical support just when they need it most.

  To help address this heightened risk for infants, MassKids is distributing free of charge its 2-DVD training set to Massachusetts maternity hospitals and birthing centers - Abusive Head Trauma/Shaken Baby Syndrome: A Training for Health Care Practitioners and Infant Crying and Soothing ~ What You Need To Know To Keep Your Baby Safe: A Presentation for Parents.” Our companion teaching brochures for parents, adopted by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, UMass Memorial Hospital, and other health providers, are available for bulk purchase in English, Spanish and Portuguese. Please contact [email protected] for more information.


MassKids Announces New Online Course for Youth Serving Organizations

Enough! Preventing Child Sexual Abuse in My Youth Organization: This latest offering in the Enough! Training series is the most comprehensive training course available in the U.S. developed exclusively to meet the specific needs of youth serving organizations (YSOs), and to address the challenges they face in preventing sexual misconduct and abuse.

The one-hour, online course with available closed captions provides learners with an engaging and interactive experience, while increasing their knowledge about child sexual abuse and its prevention, their ability to identify boundary violating behaviors before they can escalate to legally reportable sexual offenses, and their confidence in reporting boundary violations, sexual misconduct and suspected cases of child sexual abuse.

Enough! Course for Schools Approved For Continuing Education

   MassKids’ online course - Enough! Preventing Child Sexual Abuse in My School - has been approved for 1.0 Social Work Continuing Education hours by NASW-MA. Several thousand Massachusetts school employees have now completed the course. Learner satisfaction remains high with over 95% indicating they would recommend it to their colleagues.

  The Enough! Training was selected in 2019 for inclusion in the U.S. Department of Justice‘s CrimeSolutions.gov national online repository of effective, quality programs and practices to serve as evidence-based models for the fields of criminal justice, juvenile justice, and crime victimization.


Take the Pledge to PreventChild Sexual Abuse Today!

Over 1,000 people have taken the Pledge to Prevent™, a unique online action campaign that gives everyone a way to prevent child sexual abuse in their homes and communities. Take action during April, National Child Abuse Prevention Month, by taking a pledge!

At Pledgetoprevent.org you can choose one of over 30 specific pledges. We promptly send you an email with tailor-made resources to help you fulfill it. You have the option to upload your photo to the Gallery and inspire others to take a Pledge and to “Show Your Hand, Take a Stand!"


  MassKids directs the Enough Abuse Campaign, a citizen education and community mobilization initiative working to prevent child sexual abuse in homes, schools, youth organizations and communities. Enough Abuse has been adopted in New Jersey, Maryland, New York, Nevada, South Dakota, and counties in Maine and California. We have adapted our training tools for the West African countries of Nigeria and Sierra Leone, where child sexual abuse incidents are high and advocates are working to introduce prevention education to parents and schools.  

  We are committed to providing adults and communities with the knowledge and skills they need to put an end to the silence, and eventually, the epidemic of child sexual abuse. Visit our website for more facts and resources.

  Thanks for supporting our efforts and for all you do every day to keep children safe.


Thanks for reading. Stay connected.

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