Substance abuse a leading factor in child abuse, neglect in Mass.

BOSTON (AP) – The commissioner of the state’s child welfare agency says substance abuse is the leading factor in child abuse and neglect cases investigated in Massachusetts.

Department of Children and Families Commissioner Linda Spears tells The Boston Herald that while domestic violence and mental health are among other factors prevalent in the agency’s caseload, substance abuse is higher than any other co-occurring category.

Records show substance abuse was cited as a factor in more than 14,000 cases of the 47,700 total reports of abuse and neglect investigated between March and late September.

That means that substance abuse was involved in roughly 30 percent of all child abuse and neglect cases during that span.

Spears says the agency is already in the process of hiring five more substance abuse specialists.

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