Child Abuse Laws in Texas: These are the Child Abuse Laws for the State of Texas
When an adult physically, emotionally, mentally or sexually harms a minor in any way, it is considered child abuse. The abusive individual could be a parent, a legal guardian or anyone else who is an adult. Other than this, not providing a child with necessities such as food, clothing, shelter and other factors also counts as child abuse. Under such circumstances, the child is removed from the legal guardian for their safety and security.
Abusing children can have an adverse effect on their growth and development. Studies have shown that children who went through abuse tended to suffer from mental health issues in the long run. Dysfunctional families can also leave children with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. That is why it is essential to support and nurture children through their growth period.
Texas makes it a priority to protect its children. The following acts count as child abuse and abusers can face legal punishment in the state:
- Intentionally inflicting physical harm or allowing another person to inflict physical harm upon a child
- Allowing a child’s mental or emotional health to suffer or making them suffer deliberately
- Sexually assaulting or forcing a child to engage in obscene acts
- Persuading a child or providing them with mind-altering substances that could put them at risk
Signs of child abuse are not often readily visible. But if anyone, especially people working in certain sectors of employment (teachers, medical professionals), were to find symptoms of child abuse, it is their obligation to report it to the relevant authority.
What are the mandatory reporting requirements?
It is compulsory for any adult living within the State of Texas to report to the Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services should they suspect that a child is being abused. The individual reporting has forty-eight hours to let the relevant authorities know of their suspicion. For people who are unsure about the situation, they can seek the help of a professional who can better guide them towards confirming or denying their suspicion.
Any reports regarding child neglect and abuse remain confidential and are not a part of open records. People working as teachers, medical professionals, child care services, clergy or any other person working with a state-controlled organization who feels that a child is being abused must report it to the relevant authorities.
There are penalties both for deliberately not reporting or failing to report child abuse. There are also penalties for providing false reports.
How confidential is the process?
Texas offers complete confidentiality both to the individual who is reporting the case of the abuse as well as the child in question. Such a guarantee is made by the Texas Family Code which also makes provisions for when such information can be accessed. Information regarding child abuse cases can only be made accessible to a law enforcement officer in special circumstances after a court order has passed it. These scenarios only apply in the case of a criminal investigation.
People reporting child abuse need not have absolute proof that the child is being abused. Reasonable doubt is also a valid ground for filing a report. Reasonable doubt involves scenarios where bruises appear on a child’s body that they cannot explain, changes in behavior in the child, amongst others. Should a child open up to an adult regarding child abuse yet make them promise not to report the case, it becomes the adult’s responsibility to explain to the child that they have to and may face criminal charges if they do not report the child abuse.