Stop the Abuse

Children are being abused and it must stop. There have been far too many stories lately about children with special needs being abused both physically and verbally by the caretakers we are entrusting them to. How anyone could abuse a child, any child, is beyond me.

There have been several stories in the news and on social media about special needs children being abused. There have been stories about children being dragged down hallways. We have seen pictures of children coming home with bruises. We have heard the verbal abuse caught on tape. We read these stories in disgust and what do we do? We click the angry emoji and scroll down to the next story in our feed.

Click all you want but that is not going to help stop the abuse from happening. We need to do more. Many states are starting to pass laws to help protect our kids against the abuse. Here in Massachusetts there is a bill being created that would do just that. Nicky’s Law if passed will create a mandatory registry of the names of people accused of abusing a person with disabilities. The bill however is currently stalled in the Ways and Means Committee. Perhaps instead of hitting that angry emoji we should be contacting our state representatives and demanding bills such as these get passed.

Nicky’s Law if passed would be a step in the right direction. It would create a mandatory registry for those people working in programs funded through DDS. They would be required to list the name of any staff member with a substantiated abuse claim. Providers that are funded through DDS would not be allowed to hire anyone on that list. We should think however about taking the bill one step further and create a systemwide registry that would apply to anyone working with special needs children and adults in any setting both in the public and private sector.

Child abuse is a hard topic to talk about. It is especially hard when it involves children with special needs. According to the Arc of Massachusetts there are more than 11,000 reported cases of people with disabilities being abused just in Massachusetts alone. Often times the accusers in these cases are not found guilty because the victims are unable to testify.

These numbers are disgraceful. We need to do more to protect our children. It’s time to speak up and take action instead of just being angry in the moment. These children, both young and old, rely on us to keep them safe and be loved. If you see something, report it. If you hear something, report it. It’s up to each and everyone of us to help make the abuse stop now.

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