Reporting Child Abuse Pt. 1 – Failure to Report Known Abuse
The Texas Family Code requires any and all professionals who work with children to report suspected child abuse, neglect, or exploitation of a child within 48 hours of noticing the suspected abuse. 18 other states have expanded the definition of “mandated reporters” to cover all citizens, whether they work with children or not.
However, no matter what the law requires, most people want to help abused children and their families. So why do so many cases of suspected child abuse go unreported?
Common Reasons Adults Fail to Report Abuse
According to the American Humane Association, the following are the most common reasons given adults who fail to report child abuse:
- I attempted to intervene without formal reporting system.
- I was uncomforatble with getting involved.
- I was afraid that the report will only escalate matters.
- I didn't want to anger the child's family.
- I thought that filing a report would damage an existing relationship I had with the child/adult.
- Some one else will report it.
- I didn't know how.
Overcoming Your Own Objections
If you suspect a child is being abused, it is your responsibility to that child to file a report.
The Need for a Formal Report and Investigation
Attempting to avoid the formal system and intervening on your own only puts the child at greater risk. When suspected child abuse occurs, there needs to be a full investigation and professionals need to be brought in to assist the child.
Reporting is Anonymous
If you have a fear of getting involved or have an existing relationship with the abuser or abused child, you can report the abuse anonymously. This means neither the abuser nor the child will know that you filed the report.
It is Your Responsiblity
Do not wait for someone else to report the abuse – otherwise it may never happen. Each day you decide not to report suspected child abuse, that child is at risk. Be the difference in that child’s life.
I Don’t Know How to Report Child Abuse
Every state has a department responsible for taking reports of suspected child abuse. In Texas, this is known as the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS).
Reports can be filed online at www.texabusehotline.org or over the phone at 1-800-252-5400.
If you live outside of Texas and are unsure who you should, contact your local law enforcement agency. They will be able to provide the proper information. If you believe the case is an emergency, call 911.