BOSTON (WWLP) – State lawmakers attended the tenth annual “Step Up for Kids” event, highlighting the need to help children suffering from abuse.
Hundreds of brightly colored shoes lined the Grand Staircase of the State House; each pair represents a chilling statistic. On average, 391 Massachusetts children are abused each week.
Governor Charlie Baker said “any number bigger than one is a problem.”
Although that number is down from last year, it is a very significant number, and the work continues for the family support organization Children’s Trust. The group welcomed supporters and state lawmakers to their tenth annual “Step Up for Kids” event. Children’s Trust Executive Director Suzin Bartley told 22News their mission is to prevent child abuse and neglect before it is too late. She said, “otherwise, we wait until we are dealing with much more extensive and expensive interventions after something bad has happened.”
The “Healthy Families” program matches first-time parents under the age of 21 with trained professionals who offer guidance from pregnancy until a child’s third birthday. Northwestern District Attorney David Sullivan said prevention programs are critical. That is especially true in western Massachusetts where child abuse rates are among some of the highest in the state.
“It’s a very significant problem. Some of the most difficult cases we handle are child abuse cases that we prosecute,” said Sullivan.
The Children’s Trust organization relies on state and federal funding, as well as private donations.