Child abuse is the mistreatment of a child that results in harm or injury. There are four basic types of child abuse. Children being abused are likely to experience more than just one type of abuse.
Failure to provide for a child’s basic needs such as adequate food, clothing, medical care, or shelter either deliberately or through chronic disregard.
Deliberate physical injury that results in substantial harm to the child by a parent or caretaker. It also can include a genuine threat of harm even if there is no visible injury.
An action that results in a marked impact on a child’s growth, development, or psychological functioning. Emotional abuse includes extreme forms of punishment such as confining a child in a dark closet, habitual scapegoating, chronic pattern of belittlement impacting a child’s self-worth or esteem, or withholding any positive attention or support.
Sexual conduct harmful to a child’s mental, emotional, or physical welfare. This includes fondling a child’s genitals, penetration, indecent exposure, and exploitation through prostitution or producing pornography.
Just as there are various types of abuse and neglect, the symptoms of abuse and neglect may vary from child to child.
- Unexplained injuries
- Changes in behavior
- Fear of going home or reluctance to be with a certain person
- Changes in diet, sleep, or school performance
- Lack of personal hygiene or care
- Risk-taking behavior
- Inappropriate sexual behavior or knowledge
All children have the right to a safe and nurturing home, and making a report is the first step in putting an end to the devastating cycle of child abuse. Reporting should be done when a person either knows or has a reasonable suspicion that a child has been or is in danger of abuse or neglect. Hard proof is not needed to make a report, however, reports must be in good faith.
Texas Family Code 261.001 defines that if you have cause to believe that a child’s physical or mental health or welfare has been adversely affected by abuse or neglect by any person, you are required by law to make a report. Failure to report is punishable by imprisonment for up to 180 days and/or a fine up to $2,000.
Make a report by calling 1-800-252-5400, contacting local law enforcement, or visiting www.txabusehotline.org.
Your information is kept confidential and you may choose to remain anonymous. However, it is helpful to give your name and telephone number in the event they need to obtain more information from you later.
Remain calm and always believe the child. Children rarely lie about such an intense and painful topic. Statistics show that children only lie about abuse 2-8% of the time!
Allow the child to share their story with you, but leave the detailed questioning to the professionals. Show concern, don’t promise things you can’t control, and assure the child that they did the right thing in telling you. Finally, take action by filing a report within 48 hours – this could save the child’s life.
No, services are open to everyone! Through parenting support groups, child development screenings, monthly family events, and counseling services, Family Enrichment Services focuses on building stronger families in our community.
CASA volunteers are ordinary people from all walks of life, ages, and ethnic groups who are committed to doing what is best for a child in the foster care system. Many of the volunteers in our CASA program hold full-time jobs, have children, or own a business, and are still able to get involved!