Standing Committee to Prevent Abuse & Neglect


Meeting Dates

All Standing Committee to Prevent Abuse & Neglect meetings begin at 6:30 p.m. at MDS headquarters unless otherwise indicated.


Go to MDS Calendar


kayla small

Joint Program on Abuse and Neglect Held with Massachusetts Medical Society

 A special program entitled "Recognizing Child Abuse and Neglect: The Providers' Roles in Detection" was held on Tuesday, March 12, 2013, at the Massachusetts Medical Society (MMS) in Waltham. The program provided medical and dental doctors with knowledge about their ethical and professional responsibility as mandated reporters. This is the first time the MDS and MMS have worked together to offer a joint program. The program was a big success and  sold out with 130 attendees. Many attendees cited the reason they came to the training was because they had not received any training on this subject since medical/dental school.

The keynote speaker for this program was Kayla Harrison, 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist in judo. Kayla inspired the audience by sharing her personal story of the abuse she suffered at the hands of her coach that began at age 9. Her coach made her promise not tell anyone. "It's a secret" are the words her coach used to say to her. Kayla was afraid to come forward and speak with family, friends, or the medical community about her abuse, but hoped others might notice the changes in her personality and grow suspicious. Her courage to speak out now about the abuse she suffered has helped shine a light on the dark secret of child sexual abuse. Her personal account helped educate program attendees on the important responsibility they have as mandated reporters.

Kayla Harrison was also featured on the December 17, 2012, cover of Sports Illustrated along with R.A. Dickey, Cy Young winner. According to SI, they are "two champions who stepped out of the shadows, shined a light on the dark secret of child sexual abuse and showed us how to understand and begin to heal."

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Mandated Reporting - Do You Know How to File a Concern?

Dentists are mandated reporters. Every time a you renew your dental license in Massachusetts, you must attest to knowing your responsibility as a mandated reporter. Failure to report a suspected case of abuse and/or neglect can have financial penalties. 


How to File A Suspicion

As a dentist, it is legally your responsibility to understand the reporting requirements when you suspect a case of abuse and/or neglect for a child, elderly person, or person with disability. You make an oral report with the corresponding office and file a written report within 48 hours after the oral report has been made.


Report a Suspicion of Child Abuse and/or Neglect 

Massachusetts law requires mandated reporters to immediately make an oral or written report to the Department of Children & Families (DCF) when, in your professional capacity, you have reasonable cause to believe that a child under the age of 18 is suffering from abuse and/or neglect. In addition to filing with the department, a mandated reporter may notify local law enforcement or the Office of Child Advocate of any suspected abuse and/or neglect. You should report: any physical or emotional injury resulting from abuse and/or neglect; any instance in which a child is determined to be physically dependent upon an addictive drug at birth; or death as a result of abuse and/or neglect. 

 When you suspect that a child is being abused/and or neglected, you should immediately telephone the DCF area office serving the child's residence and ask for the Screening Unit. DCF offices are staffed between 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. weekdays. To make a report at any other time, call the Child-At-Risk-Hotline at (800) 792-5200. 


Report a Suspicion of Elder Abuse and/or Neglect


 If you suspect an elder (60 and over) is being abused, neglected, or exploited, you are mandated to file an oral report. Call (800) 922-2275 to reach the Protected Services hotline. Follow the prompts to file a suspected abuse report with an intake specialist, who will then send you a written report to complete that should be returned within 48 hours, if possible. The report is always confidential. 


Report a Suspicion of Disabled Abuse and/or Neglect

 If you suspect a disabled person is being abused and/or neglected, you are mandated to file an oral report. Contact (800) 426-9009 to speak with an intake specialist, who will take your oral report and fax you a written report to complete. The written report should be completed and returned as soon as possible. 


 Reporting a suspicion of abuse and neglect is your legal responsibility and also the right thing to do. Failure to report a case can result in a fine of $1,000 or more.  


Abuse and Neglect
Oral Reporting Hotlines





 Child Abuse/Neglect 

 Department of Children Services 

 (800) 792-5200 

 Elder Abuse/Neglect 

 Department of Protected Services 

 (800) 922-2275 

 Disabled Abuse/Neglect 

 Disabled person Protection 

 (800) 426-9009 



Safety Tips for Children

 The MDS Standing Committee to Prevent Abuse and Neglect wants to be sure that all children in Massachusetts have a safe school year. The committee has developed the "Knowing My Rules for Safety" table-top display for dental offices and has mailed a display to all member offices.Please spread the word with your patients on child safety. Additional replacement display pads are available.

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Dentists Are Mandated Reporters


Dentists are mandated reporters of abuse and neglect. It's important to remember that under Massachusetts law, mandated reporters are protected from liability in any civil or criminal action and from any discriminatory or retaliatory action by an employer.

Need additional information on how to report a case of abuse and neglect?  Browse the info below for hotline numbers, web links, and age guidelines. 

  • Massachusetts Department of Children & Families (DCF)
    Phone: (800) 792-5200
    Ages birth to 17
  • Disabled Persons Protection Commission (DPPC)
    Phone: (800) 426-9009
    Ages 18 to 59

Child Abuse in the United States

In the United States, seven or more children die per day from abuse and neglect, which equates to over 2,500 per year. This number represents the 50 percent undercounting in the estimated figure of 1,560, which is an official estimate. In the country, every 36 seconds a child is abused or neglected. Only 40 percent of abused children in the country with substantiated cases receive services, according to the United States Department of Health and Human Services and MarketWatch.

There is a direct correlation between the economy and incidences of child abuse. For children, the downturned economy has literally meant lost lives.

A recent report by researchers at Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh in the journal Pediatrics confirmed what physicians and child advocates in Massachusetts and around the country already knew—that infants and children in the United States are dying in larger numbers from injuries caused by abuse at the hands of frustrated, stressed-out parents and caregivers.

Abuse and Neglect Quiz

The Standing Committee on Abuse and Neglect created a series of quizzes on various topics relating to dental pactitioners' knowledge about abuse and neglect.

Take this self-evaluation to test your knowledge.

Coming soon - more quizzes in the series.


Primary Responsibilities

The Massachusetts Dental Society Standing Committee to Prevent Abuse & Neglect was formed in order to develop information regarding the dental community’s obligation as mandated reporters to report abuse and neglect and to develop educational and informational materials to address this issue.

Review Bylaws


Questions or comments concerning meetings or minutes can be directed to the chair or the MDS staff liaison, Ellen Factor.



Contact the members below or the MDS staff liaison Ellen Factor.


Michael C. Sheff, DMD 
221 Washington St
Newton 02458
(617) 332-2900

  Michael C. Sheff, DMD



David B. Harte, DMD
480 Adams St
Milton 02186
(617) 696-5257

Howard L. Needleman, DMD
87 Chestnut St
Needham 02492-2578
(781) 444-6650

Joan Viantha Qureshi, DMD
PO Box 334
Sherborn 01770 

Joanne C. Schultz, DDS
85 Donizetti St
Wellesley 02482
(781) 416-9955 

Kathryn I Vitiello, DMD
72 Woburn St
Medford 02155
(781) 710-2163

Jetta Bernier, MA
Massachusetts Citizens for Children
14 Beacon St
Boston 02108
(617) 742-8555 




Abuse and Neglect Poster

Need Help Poster 2Resource poster available to post in your office with hot line support services

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