Dr. Michael F. Holick

Critics blast BU doctor for child abuse defense

A Boston University doctor with a history of butting heads with the establishment is irking child abuse specialists nationwide by testifying in defense of parents accused of maltreatment — claiming that a rare genetic disease, not parental wrongdoing, is leading to children’s bone fractures. Dr. Michael F. Holick’ testimony — currently at issue in a child abuse case in Maine — is prompting concern among pediatricians who say he has no scientific proof to back up his claims and is providing covers to potentially dangerous parents putting children further at risk.

Jeremiah Oliver

Report: Hundreds of at-risk Mass. kids are revictimized

Allegations of child abuse outside of children’s homes rose by 16 percent in Massachusetts in 2013, according to a new state report, providing fresh incentive for Governor-elect Charlie Baker and his administration to continue focusing on vulnerable children after a tumultuous year for child welfare officials.

DCF Logo

Mass. appeals court upholds ruling dismissing DCF lawsuit

A nonprofit’s effort to improve Massachusetts' struggling child welfare system hit another roadblock this week with an appeals court decision that closed the door on an effort to get the federal court to oversee reform. The court on Dec. 15 upheld a lower court decision dismissing a lawsuit filed against the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families. Chief Judge Sandra Lynch of the US First Circuit Court of Appeals wrote in the 40-page decision that a district court judge – while pointing out major deficiencies in the child welfare system – was correct in dismissing the suit filed by the New York-based national advocacy organization, Children’s Rights.

A toy crib

Unexplained infant deaths to be reported to state social workers

Each year, dozens of Massachusetts children die suddenly and unexpectedly. But new guidelines — released in a report filed on the medical examiner’s website earlier this fall — already are prompting concern from some families and groups involved in the prevention of unexpected infant deaths, which include sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, as well as accidental suffocation and entrapment, and other unexplained causes.


NECIR child fatality stories win Publick Occurrences award

The New England Center for Investigative Reporting will be honored with a prestigious 2014 “Publick Occurrences” award from the New England Newspaper and Press Association, NECIR Executive Director Joe Bergantino announced Sept. 12.

Melvin Hooks stands in front of his daughter's grave.

Sudden infant death: Agency-linked babies more at risk

Children in homes supervised by state social workers die suddenly and unexpectedly at least twice the rate of infants statewide, according to an analysis of the most recent available data by the New England Center for Investigative Reporting. That suggests to child welfare advocates that more should be done to educate caretakers of some of the state’s most vulnerable children about how to minimize the risk of sudden death.