Child Abuse: Failing as a state, nation, and human race

By Léa Aliberti

Child abuse continues to victimize children worldwide. It's happening now, and it's happening here.

Massachusetts tallied 22.4 abused children per 1,000 children statewide, according to a 2015 report by the US Department of Health and Human Services, making it the highest per capita rate in the country.

Mary McGeown, president and chief executive of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, said that “kids who live in poverty are 22 percent more likely to be abused or neglected than children raised not in poverty.”

In Springfield, below poverty-level income was more than double of that of the entire state in 2013. With heightened financial and external stresses, child abuse grows more rampant in these communities.

Victims may feel alone in their struggle and hesitate to come forward given the close relationship they have with their abusers. There are foundations and programs in place to prevent these atrocities and aid victims in finding safety.

The Joyful Heart Foundation, a foundation created by Law & Order: Special Victims Unit lead actress, Mariska Hargitay, seeks to create “a world free of sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse.”

The foundation believes that: “Every child has a right to a safe childhood and a life free from violence. The experience of child abuse and neglect infringe upon that right.”

Unfortunately, some parents still believe child abuse is the only way their kids can learn right from wrong. It is important for people to understand this form of discipline is not acceptable. In fact, it is criminal.

After speaking with a Commerce student, whose identity is protected for their own safety, the effects of child abuse prove to be detrimental to the mental health of the children.

Hitting your children can not only make them scared of you, but it can also make kids feel neglected and betrayed because they look up to their parents, as their everything – their hero, the person who is always supposed to be by their side, the one who is there to help them when their down. But once you abuse them, they start to see their hero as the bad guy, and even hate them – but that’s not the only thing that happens.

Kids who grow up as abuse victims can often end up treating others the foul way their parents once treated them, especially as their anger grows for the world and they take their contempt out on the people around them. These victims of abuse hold in the pain, and as a result, grow very depressed.

The Joyful Heart Foundation describes on their website how abused children can experience anxiety, depression, dissociation, difficulty concentrating, academic problems, trouble connecting with people, flashbacks, increased hyper vigilance, difficulty sleeping – and that could be just the beginning.

In the worst cases, they tend to just not want to live anymore.


Anyone who is concerned that a child is being abused or is at risk of abuse can make a report by calling the Department of Children and Families.

Monday-Friday, 8:45 AM to 5:00 PM

Department of Children and Families (Berkshire Office) 413-236-1800

Toll free 800-292-5022