Handle With Care Massachusetts

Reporting Child Abuse

Any individual concerned for a child can report child abuse or neglect. If you suspect a child under the age of 18 is being abused or neglected, or is at risk for abuse or neglect, you should call 911, and follow up by making a report to the Department of Children & Families.  Their hotline is: 1-800-792-5200.

What information do I need to provide when calling?

  • Demographic information
  • Type of abuse or neglect suspected
  • Is the child/adult in imminent danger?
  • Location of the child/adult and caregivers
  • Is there a protective caregiver present?
  • Does the alleged perpetrator have access to the child/adult?
  • General functioning of child/adult and caregivers
  • Any safety threats for first responders

Mandated reporting:

In Massachusetts, certain persons whose occupation brings them into contact with children on a regular basis are mandated to report suspected child abuse or neglect.

Massachusetts General Law Chapter 119, Section 51A,

defines MANDATED REPORTERS as one “. . . . who, in his profession shall have reasonable cause to believe that a child under the age of eighteen years is suffering physical or emotional injury resulting from abuse inflicted upon him which causes harm or substantial risk of harm to the child’s health or welfare including sexual abuse, or from neglect, including malnutrition, or who is determined to be physically dependent upon an addictive drug at birth, shall immediately report such condition to the department by oral communication and by making a written report within forty-eight hours after such oral communication.”

Those who are required to report include:

  • Medical, dental or mental health professionals;
  • Christian Science practitioners;
  • Religious healers;
  • School teachers or other school personnel;
  • Social service workers;
  • Child care or foster care workers;
  • Emergency medical services personnel;
  • Peace officers or law-enforcement officials;
  • Members of the clergy;
  • Circuit court judges, family court judges or magistrates;
  • Humane officers;
  • Employees of the division of juvenile services;
  • Youth camp administrator or counselor;
  • Employee, coach or volunteer of an entity that provides organized activities for children; and
  • Commercial film or photographic print processor.

What is Imminent Danger?

Imminent danger is defined as an emergency situation in which the welfare or life of the child is threatened. Such an emergency situation exists when there is reasonable cause to believe that any of the following conditions threaten the health or life of any child in the home:

  • Non accidental trauma inflicted by a parent, guardian, custodian, sibling, babysitter or other caretaker which can include intentionally inflicted major bodily damage such as broken bones, major burns or lacerations or bodily beatings. This condition also includes the medical diagnosis of battered child syndrome which is a combination of physical and other signs indicating a pattern of abuse; or
  • Sexually abused or sexually exploited; or
  • Nutritional deprivation; or
  • Abandonment by the parents, guardian or custodian; or
  • Inadequate treatment of serious illness or disease; or
  • Substantial emotional injury inflicted by a parent, guardian or custodian; or
  • Sale or attempted sale of the child by the parent, guardian or custodian; or
  • The parent, guardian or custodian’s abuse of alcohol, or drugs or other controlled substance has impaired his or her parenting skills to a degree as to pose an imminent risk to a child’s health or safety.