Massachusetts has extended its statute of limitations for child abuse cases until victims reach age 26. "This law will allow each abused child more time to come forward with his or her story and it will give prosecutors additional time to ensure that child abusers don't beat the clock," said Gov. Michael S. Dukakis in signing the extension. The statute of limitations for prosecuting crimes in Massachusetts is generally six years from when the crime occurred, except for certain serious crimes, such as murder, where the limit is 10 years. The new law extends the statute of limitations for child abuse cases to 10 years, but delays its commencement until the crime is reported to a law enforcement agency or the victim reaches age 16. Since a child abuse reporting law took effect in 1983, there have been 5,359 cases of child abuse, involving 6,389 children, reported to district attorneys in the state.