While some states only require certain professionals to report child abuse, Texas law requires that any person with knowledge of possible child abuse must promptly inform law enforcement. Specifically, anyone having cause to believe that a child’s physical or mental health has been or may be negatively affected must report the case to authorities. Reporting child abuse or neglect to a school professional would not suffice under the law, suspected abuse must be reported to law enforcement or the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS).
In light of the recent events at Penn State, educational institutions across the state are reviewing their reporting procedures. Southern Methodist University’s initiative perhaps characterizes the sentiment best – ‘See something, say something.’ The campaign expects students and faculty to report all crimes, including crimes against children.
Under the Texas Family Code, “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.”
For more information about your obligations under this law, please visit the Attorney General’s website.