By Katie Sittig-Boyd
According to newly released figures, Massachusetts reported the highest rate of abused and neglected children per state in the U.S. during the 2014 fiscal year.
During the fiscal year that ended in September 2014, Massachusetts reported 31,863 victimized children to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, a rate of roughly 22.9 victims per 1,000 children.
After Massachusetts, the next-highest rates of reported child abuse were in Kentucky, Rhode Island, New York, and New Mexico.
In the fiscal year that ended in September 2015, the state reported 31,114 victims, or 22.4 victims per 1,000 children. As of this printing, no national figures are yet available.
State officials listed increased public awareness and state vigilance as possible reasons for the heightened number of reported cases.
Advocates also claim that opioid addiction contributes to these numbers, indicating cases in which addicted parents had abused or neglected their children.
“We need to shift our focus to the front-end prevention of child abuse and neglect and make sure that families get the help they need when they need it,” Rafael López, commissioner of the Administration on Children, Youth and Families, said in a statement.