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Recognizing Child Abuse and Your Duty to Report It

Child Protective Services (CPS)

This article excerpts a publication that explains what child abuse is.

Texas Young Lawyers Association's brochure, excerpted in part in this article, explains the duty to report child abuse. Learn who is required to report child abuse; why to report child abuse; how to talk to an abused child, and what happens after you report child abuse.

Who is required to report child abuse?

The public: Any person having reasonable cause to believe that a child is being abused or neglected shall immediately make a report. Examples of the public include:

  • A neighbor
  • A friend
  • A parent
  • A guardian
  • A managing or possessory conservator
  • Any person offering to house a child who may be subject to abuse
  • Any member of a child’s family or household

Professionals: Professionals such as teachers, doctors, nurses, or child daycare workers that have reasonable cause to believe that a child has been abused or neglected or may be abused or neglected MUST make a verbal report within 48 hours. A professional may not delegate to or rely on another person to make the report.

Who is considered a professional for reporting purposes?

An individual who is licensed or certified by the state or who is an employee of a facility licensed, certified, or operated by the state and who, in the normal course of official duties or duties for which a license or certification is required, has direct contact with children.

Types of Child Abuse

Emotional Abuse. This type of abuse often includes belittling, shaming, humiliating, calling a child names, telling him that he is "worthless" or "no good," ignoring a child, or giving little to no love or attention to a child. Oftentimes, children who are subject to this type of abuse are withdrawn, fearful, overly anxious about doing something wrong, and have difficulties interacting with others and showing affection.

Neglect. Child neglect is the most common type of child abuse, and is a pattern of failing to provide for a child’s basic needs, whether it be adequate food, clothing, hygiene, or even supervision. Oftentimes, a parent or caregiver’s addiction to drugs or alcohol leads to this type of abuse. Signs of neglect may include when a child is malnourished, lacks personal cleanliness, steals or begs for food, and is unattended for long periods of time.

Physical Abuse. Physical abuse involves physical harm or injury to the child. It may also be the result of severe discipline that is inappropriate for the child’s age or physical condition. Children often make excuses for or intentionally hide their injuries with this type of abuse.

Sexual Abuse. Often the most difficult type of abuse to spot, this type of abuse involves subjecting a child to any type of sexual act, whether a child is physically contacted or not. A good sign of sexual abuse is a child’s strong reluctance to be around a specific individual.

Topics Covered in the Brochure

  • Who is required to report child abuse
  • Why you should report child abuse
  • Types of child abuse
  • Warning signs
  • Tips for talking to an abused child
  • What happens when you report child abuse
  • Frequently asked questions
  • How to report child abuse

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