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Texas Child Abuse Laws

Texas child abuse laws criminalize physical, emotional, or sexual abuse of minors and also require certain third parties with knowledge of the abuse to report it to the authorities.

Mandatory Reporting Requirements

Texas law requires anyone with knowledge of suspected child abuse or neglect to report it to the appropriate authorities. This mandatory reporting requirement applies to all individuals and is not limited to teachers or health care professionals. The law even extends to individuals whose personal communications may be otherwise privileged, such as attorneys, clergy members, and doctors or nurses.

Where Can I Report Suspected Child Abuse In Texas?

You can report suspected abuse to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS). That agency investigates reports of child abuse (and neglect) in the Lone Star State.

The following table touches on the basics of Texas child abuse laws. See Child Abuse Overview to learn more.

Code Section Family 261.001 et seq.
What Constitutes Abuse Inflicting or failing to reasonably prevent others from inflicting mental or emotional injury impairing child's growth, development, or psychological functioning; physical injury resulting in substantial harm, or which is at variance with explanation given; sexual abuse, exploitation, use of controlled substance resulting in mental or physical harm to child
Mandatory Reporting Required By "Professionals" including teachers, nurses, doctors, day care employees, employees of state-licensed or certified organizations with direct contact with children, clergy, mental health professional, attorney, reproductive health clinic worker, any person
Basis of Report of Abuse/neglect 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
To Whom Reported Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services
Penalty for Failure to Report or False Reporting Class B misdemeanor Physical injury resulting in substantial harm; mental or emotional injury; failure to prevent injury; harmful sexual conduct or pornography; failure to prevent use of controlled substance by child False report: Class A misdemeanor

Note: State laws surrounding the issue of child abuse are constantly changing -- contact a Texas criminal defense attorney or a Texas family lawyer, or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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