Mandatory Reporting of Child Abuse in Texas
In Texas, anyone who suspects a child has been abused or neglected has a legal obligation to report it. Educators are held to an even higher standard and can face harsher punishment for trying to conceal abuse. Here’s an overview of Texas mandatory reporting laws and the crime and consequences of failure to report child abuse or neglect.
Who is required to report child abuse and neglect in Texas?
In Texas, if you suspect that a child is being abused or neglected, the law requires that you report it to the appropriate agency – this is true for everyday citizens and for professionals who work with children.
Where are people supposed to report suspected child abuse?
An appropriate agency to report child abuse would be the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services or local law enforcement.
Are educators held to a higher standard when it comes to reporting child abuse?
Yes, teachers, administrators and other school personnel are classified as mandatory “professional reporters” by the state of Texas. This designation requires that they report suspected mental or physical abuse within 48 hours. By law, they may not delegate their duty to report to another person to make the report.
Who is considered a mandatory professional reporter of child abuse and neglect in Texas?
According to Texas Family Code Section 261.101, a mandatory professional reporter is anyone who is licensed or certified by the state or who works for a facility licensed, certified or operated by the state and has contact with children in the normal course of their duties. People who fall into this category are required to report suspected mental or physical abuse within 48 hours and must not delegate that duty to anyone else, such as a co-worker and family member.
Professional reporters include but are not limited to:
- Day-care workers
- Juvenile probation officers
What about people whose communications are considered privileged? Are they also required to report child abuse and neglect?
Yes, the reporting requirements apply without exception to individuals whose personal communications may otherwise be privileged, including an attorney, a clergy member, a medical practitioner, a social worker, a mental health professional, an employee or member of a board that licenses or certifies a professional, and an employee of a clinic or health care facility that provides reproductive services.
What constitutes failure to report child abuse or neglect in Texas?
Under Texas law, a person commits this offense if he or she has reasonable cause to believe that a child’s physical or mental health or welfare has been adversely affected by abuse or neglect and knowingly fails to make a report.
What is the punishment for failure to report child abuse or neglect in Texas?
The offense is generally a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a maximum $4000 fine.
However, the offense becomes a state jail felony, punishable by six months to two years in a state jail facility and a maximum $10,000 fine if the following apply:
- The offense becomes a state jail felony if the child had an intellectual disability, resided in a state-supported living center, and the defendant knew the child suffered serious bodily injury as a result of the abuse or neglect.
- The offense also becomes a state jail felony if
the defendant is a mandatory/professional reporter and intended to conceal the abuse or neglect.
The educators in a recent Midland case are each facing a state jail felony, as it is alleged they attempted to conceal the assault.
Accused of failing to report child abuse and neglect? Contact us.
If you are a loved one is accused of failing to report child abuse or neglect in North Texas, it’s essential that you contact an experienced defense attorney as soon as possible. We can help. Our team can intervene between you, the police and Child Protective Services. It’s important to get in front of it as soon as possible and launch the most aggressive defense strategy as possible. Call 817-203-2220 today for a free consultation with an attorney who is experienced defending child abuse and neglect cases.