As mandated reporters, educators and other school staff must remain informed on the topic of child abuse. School personnel represent the largest professional resource for reporting suspected child abuse and neglect in Texas. Education leaders can promote awareness of Texas laws and the safety of Texas students by developing effective reporting policies, programs, and employee training.
Texas Education Code (TEC) §38.004 covers child abuse reporting and programs. It specifies that:
- The agency must maintain on its website a list of links to sites that provide information regarding the prevention of child abuse and develop and periodically update a training program on prevention of child abuse that a school district may use for staff development.
- Each school district shall provide child abuse antivictimization programs in elementary and secondary schools.
2) TEC §38.0041 requires school districts and open-enrollment charter schools to:
- Adopt and implement a policy addressing sexual abuse and other maltreatment of children and include that policy in the district improvement plan and any informational handbook provided to students and parents. To see model policies visit TASB - Freedom from Abuse, Discrimination, and Bullying for more information.
- Participate in a training on prevention techniques and recognition of sexual abuse and other forms of child maltreatment. Each school district and open-enrollment charter school must also maintain records that include the name of each district or charter school staff member who participates in the training. This training must include:
- factors indicating a child is at risk for sexual abuse or other maltreatment
- likely warning signs indicating a child may be a victim of sexual abuse or other maltreatment
- internal procedures for seeking assistance for a child who is at risk for sexual abuse or other maltreatment, including referral to a school counselor, a social worker, or another mental health professional
- techniques for reducing a child's risk of sexual abuse or other maltreatment
- community organizations that have relevant existing research-based programs that are able to provide training or other education for school district or open-enrollment charter school staff members, students, and parents
- Maintain records that include the name of each district or charter school staff member who participated in the training.
TEC §38.0042 requires all school campuses to post in at least one high-traffic area, in both English and Spanish, a poster, at student eye-level, with information that includes the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) Abuse hotline telephone number, instructions to call 911 and directions to the www.txabusehotline.org. A poster developed to meet the requirements can be found at: www.onewithcourage.org/take-action/for-educators.
Child Abuse and Neglect Resources for Texas Schools
The following links provide information on child abuse reporting requirements, training opportunities, awareness and prevention campaigns, and policy resources.
Detailed information on the responsibilities and the process for reporting suspected child abuse and neglect is accessible on the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) website. Resources include tools and information specifically designed for school personnel.
- Children's Advocacy Centers are non-profits that serve as the first stop for children who have experienced sexual abuse, severe physical abuse, or witnessed a violent crime. CAC's are available to support Texas schools with implementation of required trainings. Local centers can provide more information on training opportunities and child abuse reporting information that may be available within your community. You can search for the local center that serves your school on the CAC website.
- The Dallas Children's Advocacy Center Online Training Center has a variety of training modules available on its website.
- Darkness to Light is a non-profit dedicated to educating adults about the steps they can take to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to the reality of child sexual abuse. Stewards of Children is free training available to all Texas school district and open-enrollment charter school employees. It is approved by Texas Education Agency for CPE credits. A certificate of completion is available after finishing the training. The training offers ease of use for districts through online and facilitator-led training options, along with the ability to track, monitor, and maintain records of training participants.
- DFPS provides online training that includes video tutorials on mandatory reporting in the school setting. This web-based training tool and video module can be used to train school staff on how to make and file a report. A certificate of completion is available at the conclusion of the course. DFPS has regions throughout Texas. Please contact the DFPS Regional Education Specialists (Word) in your region for more information on child abuse training for school staff.
Increasing Awareness and Prevention