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Reporting Abuse to Protect Teens in Texas

As parents and caring adults, one of our most important responsibilities is ensuring the safety and well-being of the teenagers in our lives.

Unfortunately, there are instances where teens may be subjected to various forms of abuse or neglect, which can have long-lasting and devastating effects on their physical and emotional health. It’s crucial to understand what constitutes abuse, how to recognize the signs, and what steps to take to report it.

What needs to be reported?

Abuse, in any form, is unacceptable and must be reported promptly. Whether it’s mental, emotional, physical, or sexual injury, or the failure to prevent such harm, it’s imperative to intervene. Neglect also falls under the umbrella of abuse.

Neglect or blatant disregard for the child’s welfare or failure to make a reasonable effort to prevent physical or sexual harm; includes:

  1. leaving a child in a dangerous situation
  2. failing to seek medical care for the child
  3. failure to provide necessary food, clothing or shelter

In the state of Texas, failing to report suspected abuse can lead to legal consequences, ranging from misdemeanor to felony charges.

What are the signs of abuse?

Recognizing the signs of abuse is critical for early intervention and protection of vulnerable teens. These are the most common signs to look for. It’s important to take them seriously.

  • frequent injuries
  • frequent complaints of pain without obvious injury
  • lack of reaction to pain
  • extreme fear or anxiety of going home or seeing parents
  • unreasonable clothing that might be hiding injuries
  • malnourishment
  • consistent concern for lack of personal hygiene
  • stealing or begging for food
  • child unattended for long periods of time
  • inappropriate sexual comments or behaviors
  • knowledge of sexual relations beyond what’s expected
  • severe depression, anxiety, or aggression

What does reporting look like?

Reporting abuse in Texas can be done online or by phone, with immediate action required in urgent situations. If it’s an urgent case, it’s better to call.

It’s also important to note that anonymous reporting to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) is no longer permitted as of September 2023. However, you can still make anonymous reports to local and state law enforcement agencies.

When reporting, you’ll be asked for detailed information like:

  • People involved – who is being abused and who you suspect is responsible and others who can provide information

  • What happened – detailed information on concerns and reasons you are reporting

  • Safety concerns – detailed information regarding domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse, living conditions and other safety concerns

Reporting in good faith provides legal immunity, and the identity of the reporter is kept confidential by DFPS.

Also in this episode

  • It was announced at the beginning of the month that the first over-the-counter birth control will be available soon.
  • A recent TikTok trend has teens “ranking” everything – Rank This.
  • The latest in entertainment: Avatar, Eras Tour, Dune 2, and more.

In this episode, we mentioned or used the following resources.

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Karlie Duke

Karlie Duke

Director of Communications

Tobin Hodges

Tobin Hodges

Program Director

Caleb Hatchett

Caleb Hatchett

Podcast Host

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