Reporting Family Violence, Child Abuse and Neglect – The State of Texas requires both the general public and licensed professionals such as teachers, doctors and daycare officials to report any instances of child abuse or neglect. Believe it or not, knowingly not reporting is considered a Class A misdemeanor.
But we as a society should be compelled to report all instances of family violence – on adults or children.
According to statistics from the Texas Council on Family Violence, there were 185,817 cases of family violence in 2014. Of those, 132 women were killed. A year earlier, there were 362 fewer cases and 13 less female deaths due to family violence. Even more staggering – according to Children’s Advocacy Centers of Texas, there are more than 65,000 confirmed cases of child abuse in Texas – in one year.
These are sobering statistics, and it is scary to think about how many potential cases per year go unreported because either the family is too afraid to self-report, or no one else does anything about it.
There are ways we can help. But first, a few definitions.
Family violence – An act by a member of a family or household against another member that is intended to result in, or is a threat that reasonably places the other member in fear of, physical harm, injury, assault, or sexual assault. It also includes abuse by a family member on a child of the family and dating violence.
Abuse – An act that results in mental or emotional injury, physical injury or the threat of physical injury, sexual misconduct or controlled-substance use.
Neglect – The act of leaving a child in a situation where the child would be exposed to a substantial risk of physical or mental harm, with no intent to return. It also includes not providing food, seeking medical treatment, intentionally not removing a child from a harmful situation, and placing a child in a situation that a reasonable person would realize requires judgement or actions beyond the child’s level of maturity or physical or mental capabilities and that results in bodily injury or a substantial risk of immediate harm.
How to make a report on child abuse:
Reports of child abuse or neglect must be made to any state or local law enforcement agency, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services and the state agency that operates, licenses, certifies, or registers the facility in which the alleged abuse or neglect occurred (daycare facility).
The report should include:
1. The reporter’s belief that a child has been or may be abused or neglected, or has died of abuse or neglect.
2. The name and address of the child.
3. The name and address of the person responsible for the care, custody, or welfare of the child.
4. Any other pertinent information.
It’s important to note that the public does not have a mandatory duty to report family violence unless that violence is inflicted on a child. The State merely encourages any person who witnesses family violence – other than to a child – to report it to local law enforcement.
A medical professional who treats a person for injuries that they have reason to believe were a direct result of family violence is required to immediately provide that person with information on the nearest family-violence center, document the person’s injuries in their medical file, and give the person a written notice about the legal implications of family violence.
Family violence, child abuse and neglect are serious matters that we should all try to have a hand in avoiding and/or reporting to the necessary agencies. If you have any further questions on this topic, or would like more information on how to help, please contact a team member at Nelson Law Group, PC.