If you believe a child you care about may have been abused, you may have many thoughts, feelings, and concerns.
Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center is here to help.
What is Child Abuse?
Child abuse can result from physical, emotional, or sexual harm. Children are often abused by someone they know, love, and trust. Sometimes, family members, close friends, and neighbors are people who abuse children. They may also be someone in a position of authority, such as a teacher, coach, or church leader.
Making a Report
Any person who reasonably suspects that a child is a victim of abuse or neglect is mandated by law to report their suspicion to the police or the Texas Child Abuse Hotline. You may remain anonymous.
Texas Child Abuse Hotline
If you believe a child is in immediate danger, please call local law enforcement or 911.
Immediate danger includes:
- A threat of imminent harm or violence to a child
- The perpetrator of abuse lives in the same home as the child
- A child has an injury requiring immediate medical attention
- A child is contemplating self-harm, suicide, or harming another person
When should I call the Texas Abuse Hotline instead of reporting online?
Call the Texas Abuse Hotline when the situation is urgent. Urgent means someone faces an immediate risk of abuse or neglect that could result in death or serious harm. Call the Texas Abuse Hotline at 1-800-252-5400 for situations including but not limited to:
- Serious injuries
- Any injury to a child 5 years or younger
- Immediate need for medical treatment (including suicidal thoughts)
- Sexual abuse where the abuser has or will have access to the victim within the next 24 hours
- Children aged five and under are alone or are likely to be left alone within the next 24 hours
- Anytime you believe your situation requires action in less than 24 hours
What if I am not sure that abuse has occurred?
You do not have to be certain that abuse or neglect has occurred. If you have a suspicion that a child may be in danger, it is always best to make a report and let professionals determine whether to investigate.
Once making a report crosses your mind, you should make a report. Anyone who does not report suspected abuse commits an offense and can be liable for a misdemeanor or felony.
What if I am wrong?
A person who reports suspected child abuse in good faith is immune from any civil or criminal liability.
What questions will I be asked when I make a report?
You will answer questions in three main sections: People Involved, What Happened, and Safety Concerns.
In the People Involved section, you will be asked to provide detailed information about everyone involved in the incident:
- The person you suspect is being abused (alleged victims).
- The person you suspect is responsible for the abuse (alleged perpetrators).
- Others living in the home and anyone else who can provide information about the incident.
In the What Happened section, you will be asked to provide detailed information on the specific concerns and reasons for reporting the incident.
In the Safety Concerns section, you will be asked to provide detailed information regarding domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse, living conditions, and other safety concerns. Share any concerns you have about weapons, gang involvement, or if there are people, pets, or conditions that could be a danger.
Information helpful to have on hand when filing an abuse report (if known) includes:
- Name, age, and address of the child or person 65 years or older or an adult with disabilities.
- Your name and contact information. (You may also remain anonymous.)
- Brief description of the situation and the child or vulnerable adult.
- Current injuries, medical problems, or behavioral problems.
- For a child: Parents’ names and names of siblings in the home.
- For an adult: Names of relatives in or outside the home and name of the perpetrator.
- Explain how you know about the situation.
Do I have to include my name?
No, you may choose to report anonymously. Making an anonymous report means you do not provide your name and contact information, and field investigators cannot contact you. When you make a report anonymously, you are not given an online confirmation number for your records.
If I share my name, will the family know I am the one who made the report?
By law, DFPS staff are required to keep the reporter’s identity confidential when there is a report of possible abuse, neglect or exploitation of children [Texas Family Code, Section 261.101(d)External Link], the elderly, and adults with disabilities [Texas Human Resources Code Chapter 48 101(2)External Link]. DFPS can only reveal your identity as a reporter to a judge or law enforcement personnel under certain circumstances.
Providing your name and contact information allows field investigators to contact you if they need additional information. If, after making the report, you provide additional information to the field investigator during the investigation, DFPS may include your identity as a witness in the documents and other records released to persons entitled to the information. However, DFPS will remove any information identifying you as the reporter from the record before its release [40 Texas Administrative Code, Section 700.204(a)External Link].