What’s The Law
Anyone “having cause to believe that a child’s physical or mental health or welfare has or may be adversely affected by abuse or neglect” must report the case to any state or local law enforcement agency and to the Department of Protective and Regulatory Services. Failure to report suspected child abuse or neglect is punishable by imprisonment of up to 180 days and/or a fine of up to $1,000. (Texas Family Code, Chapter 34)
An oral report must be made immediately (within 48 hours) to nearest Child Protective Service Office, to the 24-hour Child Abuse Hotline (2-696-151-8000), or to the local law enforcement officials. Anyone who files a report is immune from civil or criminal liability – if the report is made in “good faith” and “without malice”.
“Good faith” means the person took reasonable steps to learn the facts that were readily available and at hand.
“Without Malice” means the person did not intend to injure or violate the rights of another person.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER I MAKE THE DECISION TO REPORT SUSPECTED CHILD ABUSE?
Several events take place after the initial complaint is filed. First of all, depending on where you live, you might report suspected abuse and/or neglect to your local child protective agency. The person responding to the call may ask you several questions about what you are reporting. This is done to ensure that enough information is available for the investigative team to be able to make decisions concerning whether or note abuse/neglect has occurred. You might be asked to give names of the family and child, your reasons for suspecting abuse, the names, addresses and telephone numbers of other witnesses, your relationship to the alleged victim, any other previous suspicious injury to the child, or for your name, address and telephone number.