You can help protect the children you serve by maintaining an environment that prioritizes both preventing child abuse before it occurs and—since abuse can still happen despite comprehensive prevention efforts—ensuring its detection at the earliest possible time. It’s essential that you build and sustain a culture in which any member of your staff will come forward with their concerns as quickly as possible if child/youth maltreatment is suspected, observed, or disclosed to them. All staff and volunteers need to know what to do to ensure children’s safety and well-being, to communicate the situation promptly and effectively to the person(s) identified in your Code of Conduct, and, if necessary, to report the circumstances to the Department of Children and Families (DCF) or to the police.
Early reporting is critical, and is the key to preventing further harm. That’s why you need to ensure that all of your employees and volunteers understand the basic issues of child abuse and neglect, and know how to recognize its signs and symptoms. They should be familiar with Massachusetts law, policies, and reporting procedures, along with the responsibilities of mandated reporters—including how, when, and to whom to make a report. On Safe Kids Thrive, you’ll find this information along with suggestions about how you can address these requirements within your organization, how to react to a child who discloses abuse, and the different circumstances your staff and volunteers may encounter that require reporting—including situations where a child or youth is being harmed or abused by another child or youth with problematic sexual behaviors.
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