Changes in sexual abuse reporting urged following DCF audit - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Changes in sexual abuse reporting urged following DCF audit

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(photo MGN-Online) (photo MGN-Online)

A disturbing report reveals critical defects in how DCF reports injuries and gets children the proper care in Massachusetts.

That’s according to the state auditor’s office.

Among the deficiencies is a flaw in how sexual abuse is prevented and reported.

Mass. DCF often removes children from their homes so they can be better  protected, but how well is our state safeguarding the tens of thousands of children in their care?
A breakdown in DCF’s policy could leave children at risk.  The state auditor released a new report that finds 260 incidents of children seriously injured that DCF was seemingly unaware.
"Those are problems that don’t need money to be solved.  They need policies," said state auditor Suzanne Bump. 

The agency is required to report critical incidents to the office of the child advocate.  This classification prompts an immediate response and investigation.

The problem: "Sexual abuse to children is not considered to be a critical incident because DCF, in their own words, did not consider sexual abuse to cause serious bodily harm or extreme physical pain.  I can’t comprehend that response," Bump added.
Bump’s office found 118 incidents of sexual abuse of a child in DCF care that were not reported to the office of the child advocate.  She said that reporting these incidents hinders the protection of children.
"They get an incomplete picture of the state of children across the Commonwealth," Bump explained.
This includes a shortfall in sharing data from the sex offender registry board.  An audit from September finds that nearly 2,000 Massachusetts sex offenders were in violation of reporting and 1,000 were never classified.
"If the agency does not make these changes, then there is indeed a role where the legislator can direct them to do so," Bump noted. 

Western Mass News reached out to DCF.  We have not yet received a response.

Copyright 2017 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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