Child Abuse Tip Sheet: What it is and What to Do if You Suspect Child Abuse


Nancy L. Rommelmann PLLC

By Nancy L. Rommelmann PLLC
Family Law Attorney –

Child abuse is defined in the Texas Family Code as an act or omission that endangers or impairs a child’s physical, mental or emotional health and development.  Child abuse can take the form of emotional or physical injury, sexual abuse or exploitation, physical or medical neglect or inadequate supervision.

Emotional injury is inflicted on a child by verbal assaults that may take the form of belittling, name-calling, screaming, threatening or telling a child that s/he is “worthless” or “bad.”

DO:

1. Listen to a child if they say they are being abused.

2. Document a child’s injuries, bruises, etc. by taking a child to a pediatrician.

3. Confer with a professional to help you address the issues with which the child is dealing.

4. Keep a journal of repeated bruises, etc. observed on the child for which the other Conservator does not have a credible explanation.

5. Take action if the other Conservator allows a family member or a “significant other” (boyfriend/girlfriend) to use corporal punishment on your child.

DON’T:

1. Ignore a child’s outcry regarding abuse.

2. Ignore a child’s repeated requests not to be returned to the other Conservator.

3. Ignore signs of a child’s developmental regression after being in the care of the other Conservator. (i.e. regression in potty training, speech, exhibiting aggressive, destructive or disruptive behavior). These can be indicators of abuse/neglect.

4. Ignore frequent absences or tardiness from school.

5. Think because you are not the ”primary caretaker,” Conservator or relative of a child that you have no power/rights or responsibility to prevent abuse/neglect of a child.

If you permit your child to be in a situation where s/he may be injured, then you may be prosecuted for child abuse. Consult with a knowledgeable family attorney about your options.

The Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) has a toll-free, 24-hour Family Violence Hotline: 1-800-252-5400. (https://texasattorneygeneral.gov/victims/childabuse.shtml)