Citizens to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse
On January 20th Senator Joan Lovely (D - Salem) filed legislation to address several gaps in Massachusetts’ current policies to protect children from sexual abuse. Working in close collaboration, Sen. Lovely and MassKids proposed a single, “Omnibus Bill” that would include several of the provisions introduced last session in a number of separate bills – bills that despite strong support from legislators and citizens alike, never advanced beyond the Judiciary and Education Committees.
With your support, we believe we can make the Comprehensive Child Sexual Abuse Prevention bill of 2017 one of the top legislative proposals on Beacon Hill this year. We are asking you to band together with other citizen advocates, survivors, and their families to achieve passage of this crucial legislation by joining Citizens to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse. MassKids will send you regular emails highlighting specific provisions of the bill, the data that support it, and how passage of the bill will strengthen the practices and policies of our schools, youth organizations, and communities. We will keep you informed about which legislators have formally supported the bill, when public hearings on the bill are scheduled, and any press conferences, rallies, media coverage, or State House events to promote the legislation.
What we ask you to do is to agree to speak or meet with your Senator and Representatives to encourage them to formally co-sponsor the bill. MassKids will be happy to accompany you, if you wish, to any meeting with your legislators at the State House. The deadline for signing on as co-sponsors to new Senate bills has been extended until just before the Committee on Education takes formal action on the bill. This gives us a few months to secure broad support from both Senators and House Representatives.
With your advocacy, we can successfully push for passage of the Omnibus Bill and its comprehensive provisions, some of which include:
The push to reform the criminal and civil Statute of Limitations in Massachusetts succeeded because of the strong and persistent support of citizens like you. Our goal to ensure justice for survivors and accountability for their abusers has been realized for many. As a result, survivors have now taken their cases to court and several have won.
Building on that victory, we must now focus on protecting our children from ever having to experience sexual abuse and its devastating and often life-long health and mental health consequences. The Omnibus Bill will go a long way in achieving those protections.
Children’s tiny voices are not often heard on Beacon Hill. They need us to be their megaphone, collectively advocating as one, powerful voice for their safety and right to be protected from sexual abuse and exploitation.
Join Citizens to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse today!
We Need Your Support
Since its formation in 1959, MassKids has continued to tackle the complex and sometimes controversial issues facing vulnerable children.
- In the 60s, MassKids worked successfully to remove mentally ill children from adult psychiatric wards.
- In the 70’s our data alerted the state to the growing problem of drug-addicted newborns, and to the links between teen suicides and sexual identify issues.
- In the 80’s we worked to protect homeless and runaway youth from HIV, filed a class action against the state for its inadequate child protection system, and conducted the first media campaign in the country on child sexual abuse prevention.
- In the 90’s MassKids was the first group to work to prevent infant deaths and disabilities from Shaken Baby Syndrome, and to successfully challenge the withholding of necessary medical care for seriously ill children by their faith-healing parents.
- Since 2002 our work to address child sexual abuse has resulted in the engagement of numerous communities and thousands of citizens across the state through our Enough Abuse Campaign which the CDC has called “a trailblazing effort.”
MassKids latest concern is for young girls who reside in our state whose families support the practice of FGM – female genital mutilation. The long-term physical and psychological trauma resulting from this practice have been documented internationally by the United Nations and locally by physicians at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. MassKids is working with the Women’s Bar Association to develop strategies to combat this practice. We want to find ways to engage, rather than alienate, members of communities whose traditional beliefs have supported the practice as necessary to ensure the future marriageability of their daughters. MassKids seeks to speak out for these girls because their voices – and quite literally their screams – are not being heard by those on whom they most depend upon for their safety and health.
In 2015, when you consider supporting an organization that is working tirelessly and effectively for the most vulnerable children of our state, please choose MassKids. Your donation is critical to our ongoing work, since, as we have learned, foundations are often reluctant to support issues they haven’t already included in their wheelhouse or issues they believe might be too difficult or controversial. These are precisely the issues that MassKids has been drawn to over its 55-year history. Our mission is to speak out for the most vulnerable children of our state and to amplify their tiny voices. Please add your voice to make ours and theirs stronger by making a generous contribution to MassKids today.
What your gift would help us to achieve:
- Expand the Enough Abuse Campaign on child sexual abuse prevention to new Massachusetts communities;
- Train and deploy cadres of new trainers on child sexual abuse prevention through our 2-day "Training of Trainers" in new Campaign communities;
- Provide consultation to schools and youth organizations around improving screening practices for new employees and volunteers, reporting cases of sexual abuse, and establishing codes of conduct to identify inappropriate behaviors before they can escalate to illegal acts of sexual abuse;
- Print and distribute our teaching tools: "Straight Talk about Child Sexual Abuse: A Prevention Guide for Parents" and our "Sexual Abuse Safe-Child Standards" for Youth-Serving Organizations;
- Continue enriching our websites with the latest information on all aspects of child abuse and ways to prevent it;
- Continue to educate parents of newborns, family-serving professionals, health care providers and hospitals about Shaken Baby Syndrome/Abusive Head Trauma through dissemination of our highly regarded teaching DVDs, booklets and trainings.
Your gift would enable us to persue our current Legislative Agenda:
- MassKids supports mandating comprehensive child sexual abuse prevention education for staff and volunteers in schools and youth-serving organizations. Bill language drafted by MassKids stresses that reporting cases after the fact or trying to identify victims – features of legislation in other states – does not constitute a comprehensive prevention strategy. MassKids supports also training to spot behaviors that might indicate an adult poses a sexual risk to children; understand and respond to child-on-child sexual abuse; and, institute codes of conduct in schools and youth-serving organizations that can identify early-on the physical and psychological boundary violations that, if left unchecked, could develop into reportable sexual offenses.
- MassKids proposes a bill to address educator sexual misconduct and abuse – a problem the U.S. Department of Education reports is affecting 10%, or 4.5 million, American school children K-12. The bill would require public and private schools to complete extensive and specifically detailed reviews of applicants who would be directly involved with children. It would prohibit schools from knowingly transferring or facilitating the transfer of any school employee if the school knows or has reason to believe the employee engaged in sexual misconduct with an elementary or high school student.
- MassKids supports legislation to make it a criminal offense for any school employee having supervisory responsibility of a student - irrespective of the student's age - to engage in any sexual behavior with that child or youth. Currently, educators who sexually abuse a student who has reached the age of consent (16) will most often escape any criminal charges.
- MassKids seeks to add five new categories of professionals mandated to report suspected child abuse under the state's 51a child abuse reporting law. These include: coaches, tutors, domestic violence workers, animal control and humane officers, and commercial film or photo processors.
- In 2000 the African Women's Health center at Brigham and Women's Hospital estimated that 227,887 women and girls were at risk for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Girls at risk currently reside in Massachusetts, including Boston, Lawrence, and Worcester. FGM is recognized internationally as a human rights violation, torture, and an extreme form of discrimination against women and girls. MassKids supports legislation drafted by the Massachusetts Women's Bar Association that would strengthen our state's current child abuse laws to make sure that the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is understood as being illegal and unacceptable.
Massachusetts Citizens for Children (MassKids) is the oldest state-based child advocacy organization in the country. Our mission is to improve the lives of the state's most vulnerable children through advocacy by concerned citizens. It was founded in 1959 by pediatrician Martha May Eliot, MD, who served as Chief of the U.S. Children’s Bureau and held influential positions in both the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). With active support from Governor Foster Furculo, they established MCC as a permanent, independent citizens’ voice for Massachusetts’ most vulnerable children.
Throughout its 55-year history, our organization’s work has been grounded in the belief that all Massachusetts children have the inherent right -
- To be safe from abuse, neglect, and violence;
- To be economically secure and free from poverty;
- To receive quality medical and preventive care;
- To learn in quality child care and school settings; and
- To live in caring families and healthy communities.
Since 1986 MassKids has served as the Massachusetts Chapter of Prevent Child Abuse America. MassKids currently works to prevent child abuse through the work of the Shaken Baby Syndrome Prevention Center and the soon to be launched "Choose Your Partner Carefully" project. It leads the Enough Abuse Campaign - a multi-state initiative working to educate and mobilize parents, professionals and communities to prevent child sexual abuse. Click here for highlights of MassKids' work and accomplishments for children.