Your legal Obligation
Anyone "having cause to believe that a child's physical or mental health or welfare
has been or may be adversely affected by abuse or neglect" MUST report the case immediately to a state
or local law enforcement agency or the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (TDFPS).
Professionals such as teachers, day care workers, doctors and nurses are required by law to make a verbal
report within 48 hours. TDPRS has a toll-free 24-hour Family Violence Hotline: (800) 252-5400
Your legal protection
Your report of child abuse or neglect is confidential and immune from civil or criminal
liability as long as the report is made in "good faith" and "without malice."
Provided these two conditions are met, you will also be immune from liability if you are asked to participate in any
judicial proceedings that might result from your report.
- "Good Faith" means that the person making the report took reasonable steps to learn facts that were readily
available and at hand.
- "Without malice" means that the person did not intend to injure or violate the rights of another person.
If you have reason to believe that a child is abused ...
DON'T confront the abuser. DO report your reasonable suspicions.
Even if your report does not bring decisive action, it may help establish a pattern that will eventually be
clear enough to help the child.
The signs of abuse described below don't by themselves necessarily indicate abuse. You might talk to the child
a little to see if there is a simple or innocent explanation for what you have observed. However, it is not up to
you to determine whether your suspicions are true or not. A trained investigator will evaluate the child's
You should suspect physical abuse
When you see ...
- Frequent injuries such as bruises, cuts, black eyes or burns, especially when the child cannot
adequately explain their causes
- Burns or bruises in an unusual pattern that may indicate the use of an instrument or a human bite;
cigarette burns on any part of the body
- Frequent complaints of pain without obvious injury
- Aggressive, disruptive behavior
- Lack of reaction to pain
- Passive, withdrawn, emotionless behavior
- Fear of going home or seeing parents
- Injuries that appear after the child has not been seen for several days
- Unseasonable clothes hiding injuries to arms or legs
You should suspect neglect
When you see ...
- Obvious malnourishment
- Lack of cleanliness, torn and/or dirty clothes
- Obvious fatigue and listlessness
- A child unattended for long periods of time
- Need for glasses, dental care or other medical attention
- Stealing or begging for food
- Frequent absence or tardiness from school
You should suspect sexual abuse
When you see ...
- Physical signs of sexually-transmitted diseases
- Evidence of injury to the genital area
- Difficulty in sitting or walking
- Frequent expressions of sexual activity between adults and children
- Pregnancy in a young girl
- Extreme fear of being alone with adults, especially if of a particular gender
- Sexually suggestive, age inappropriate or promiscuous behavior
- Knowledge about sexual relations beyond what is appropriate for the child's age
- Sexual victimization of other children
- Complaints of painful urination
A disclosure - If you are the first person the child tells about sexual abuse, your testimony as "outcry witness"
may be especially important in future legal proceedings
What you say the child told you is not considered hearsay but is admissible in a trial involving a sexual
offense against a child. This applies only to the first person the child approaches.
You are legally responsible for the safety of your own child
Sometimes abusers are close relatives, but the fact that the abuser is a parent or other family
member does not remove your obligation to protect the child. If you permit your child to be in a situation where he or
she may be injured, then you may be prosecuted for child abuse.
If you are frightened for your own safety or that of your child, call 911 or (800) 252-5400.
If you are uneasy about your own behavior toward your child, you can call the Parents Anonymous toll-free
hot-line at: (800)554-2323.
You are legally responsible for the care of your child. You must either provide your child with safe and adequate
food, clothing, shelter, protection, medical care and supervision or arrange for someone else to provide
these basic necessaties. Failure to do so may be considered neglect.
Anyone "having cause to believe that a child's physical or mental health or welfare has been or may be adversely
affected by abuse or neglect" MUST report the case immediately to a state or local law enforcement agency
or the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (TDFPS).
Reporting requirements for professionals
Current law requires that professionals such as teachers, nurses or child daycare workers
must make a verbal report within 48 hours. Failure to report suspected child abuse or neglect is a misdemeanor
punishable by imprisonment of up to 180 days and/or a fine of up to $2,000 (Texas Family Code, Chapter 261).
Reporting suspected child abuse to your principal, school counselor or superintendent will NOT satisfy your obligation
under this law. Local school district policy cannot conflict with or supercede the state law requiring you to report
child abuse to a law enforcement agency or TDPRS.
Back to Crime Victim Information
Copyright Humble Police Department © 2009 All Rights Reserved
Location: 310 Bender Avenue Humble TX 77338
Phone: 281.446.7127 - Emergency: 9-1-1