Texas mandated reporter statute requires any individual with knowledge of suspected child abuse or neglect to communicate this information to the appropriate authorities. Compulsory reporting appeals to all individuals and is not restricted to teachers and health professionals. The law also expands to individuals whose personal relationships may be advantaged, such as attorneys, clergy members, and healthcare providers. Therefore, all Southern Methodist University employees should be aware of Texas law pertaining to reporting suspected crimes.
Section 261.101 of the Texas Family Code (2017) mandates that anyone who suspects child abuse or neglect must report it immediately to the local law enforcement agency or the Department of Family and Protective Services. Mandated reporters are individuals who have a constant association with vulnerable persons and need to ensure a report is made when abuse is detected or suspected.
A teacher notices that Candy, his ten-year-old student, has issues when walking. When she is sitting down, she acts as if it hurts, but when the teacher asks her to explain the problem, she denies that something is wrong. Some days later, she plays soccer with classmates and coils up her sports shorts, stretching her leg on the ground when she gets warm. The teacher notes dark purple bruises on her inner thighs. She seems to remember the lesions are there and rolls the shorts down to her knees. Candy may be a victim of sexual abuse – pain and difficulty in walking are heads-up signs of this type of abuse, so the teacher does not need to question this anymore. Sexual abuse is an extremely reactive topic and is the responsibility of a therapist and an investigator. As a teacher, one has to record these observations and report them immediately.
An individual who reports or assists in the investigation of a report of child abuse or neglect case is immune from civil or criminal liability (The National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect, 1980). Failure to communicate information on suspected child abuse to relevant services is a class A misdemeanor, punishable by one-year imprisonment or a fine (NCCAN, 1980). Simply reporting an incident to the supervisor or manager is not enough.
The National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect. (1980). Child abuse and neglect audiovisual materials. U.S. Government Printing Office. Web.
Texas Family Code, Sec. 261.101. (2017). Web.