Reporting Abuse + Opill Birth Control | Ep. 152

Reporting Abuse + Opill Birth Control | Ep. 152

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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.

More Resources You Might Like

Friendship Anxiety + Teen Movies Ep 148
Episode 24: Healthy Habits & Fall Sports
Overcoming low self-esteem

Have a question?

If you have a question about something you heard or just want to give us some feedback, please leave us a comment below.  We would love to hear from you!

About Us

Karlie Duke

Karlie Duke

Director of Communications

Tobin Hodges

Tobin Hodges

Program Director

Caleb Hatchett

Caleb Hatchett

Podcast Host

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Does that mean anything to you? For some it might conjure up the lyrics of an old George Straight song that says, “You’ve got to have an ace in the hole.” For others it brings images of poker games and winning hands. For others, names of all-star professional baseball pitchers. For others, the experience of serving in tennis and never getting a volley back. Maybe for you, it’s the terminology for someone who is always seemingly ahead – “He’s holding all the aces.”

But how many of you saw ACE and thought about difficult childhood experiences? I’m guessing not very many of you. This past week I had the opportunity to sit in a training which discussed trauma informed care. As part of that discussion, the ACEs were mentioned.

So, what are the ACEs?

ACEs in this context stands for Adverse Childhood Experiences. These are experiences that occur before the age of 18 that have a dramatic impact on how we live, function, and make decisions as an adult. The CDC-Kaiser Permanente Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study began in the mid-1990s and continued through 2015 and has consistently shown the impact of childhood experiences on adult functioning. Let’s take a minute to look at what was studied and the major findings.

The ACE Study looked at the occurrence of 10 major childhood experiences, which are typically divided into 3 main categories.



What It Said 

According to the CDC, Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are common. So common that almost 2/3 of participants reported at least one ACE, and more than 20% reported three or more ACEs. – Pause for a minute – that is statistically the majority of people that you meet every day. That is 1 in 5 who have had multiple significant experiences – most of which we don’t like to talk about.

So what does that mean? Per the CDC, as the number of ACEs increases, so does likelihood of the risk for the following:

  • Alcoholism and alcohol abuse
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Depression
  • Health-related quality of life
  • Illicit drug use
  • Heart disease
  • Liver disease
  • Poor work performance
  • Financial stress
  • Risk for intimate partner violence
  • Multiple sexual partners
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Smoking
  • Suicide attempts
  • Unintended pregnancies
  • Early initiation of smoking
  • Early initiation of sexual activity
  • Adolescent pregnancy
  • Risk for sexual violence
  • Poor academic achievement


It covers it all – health problems, increased risky behaviors and a decreased life potential. It also leads to an increase likelihood of premature death.

Look at the list above again and let’s talk about students – especially high school students. Often, we as parents, youth workers, teachers, and Teen Life Facilitators spend a great deal of time talking about poor grades, teenage pregnancy, suicide attempts, self-injury behaviors, depression, anxiety, drug and alcohol use/abuse. But do we stop to take the time to think about what experiences might have contributed to these decisions? When we are feeling frustrated, do we see the behavior as defiance or a coping skill?

So now that we know what the ACEs are and what the research shows, what in the world do we do?

Build relationships.

According to Dr. Karyn Purvis, “The child with a history of loss, trauma, or abuse has no hope of healing without a nurturing relationship.” The presence of safe, stable, and nurturing relationships can greatly increase resiliency among children and youth who have experienced multiple ACEs.

Are you willing to look past the hard choices, to look past the mistakes, in order to see the experiences that have impacted the students in our lives? And when you do, are you willing to stick it out to connect and empower youth to overcome?


***For More Information about The CDC ACE Study can be found here and here. More information about the ACEs in general can be found here. More information about Dr. Karyn Purvis and her Trust Based Relational Intervention can be found here.

Beth Nichols is Teen Life’s Program Director. With her background in social work and experience as a mom of 4, her perspective is invaluable.
The Place Where No-One is Turned Away

The Place Where No-One is Turned Away

Working for Teen Life the past seven years has afforded me the opportunity to walk the halls of many schools across our area. Every campus has a look and feel – even a smell! Some come equipped with the latest technology and new carpet while others seem to barely keep the lights on. These campuses are the epicenter of everything – education, culture, social life, development, relationships – all of it. Think about it – in our ever-fracturing society where everything is done online, the public school is the one place where ideas are exchanged and problems are solved – face to face.

What used to be done in houses of worship and other public spaces can really only be found in public schools. And the reason for this is why I am endlessly fascinated with public schools especially – there is no requirement for entry. Public schools have no financial, educational, socio-ethnic, or religious requirement for entry. Simply put – if you live within a certain boundary of a public school – you can go and learn!

To me it is kind of like our national park system. A long time ago, our nation’s leaders decided to reserve wide swaths of land, preventing anyone from exploiting or taking advantage of its natural resources. This would be a public space for all to enjoy nature without barriers to entry (save a daily fee, I guess).

You get to see nature in it’s most preserved state and know that you won’t see a shopping strip or oil rig. It will never be exploited for profit, and nature can just be enjoyed – by everyone.

Public schools in this way have to take everyone who passes through their doors. They have to accommodate all levels of learning and manage classrooms that are ever diversifying. Walking through the hallways and watching how the women and men work with their students is really a beautiful thing to watch.

For many students, the public school might be the only safe place they experience. For some, it is a shelter from abuse. For others, it represents a hot meal and badly needed resources. For others, access to compassionate adults who can advocate on their behalf.

This is a time of year where we shift back to the ebb and flow of the school day and calendar. Even those who do not have kids in school feel the effects of this time of year. We at Teen Life are so excited to start another year helping students on public school campuses across our area, and nationwide! Within the next few weeks across our nation, students head back to the classroom and our educators get back to work. Let us be looking for ways to support those who serve any and every student who come their way. It is a calling unlike any other.

Pray for our educators. Check in with them. Ask what they need. Provide it if you can. Support them. Advocate on their behalf.

School is back! Let’s lean into our local schools and make this year the best one possible!

Chris Robey, Teen Life’s CEO, has worked with teens for over a decade and strives to help students see the best in themselves.