Stephen F. Austin State University

Duty To Report Child Abuse & Neglect

Texas law requires anyone who has reason to believe that a child has been abused or neglected to report the suspected abuse or neglect to a law enforcement agency or an agency that protects children, for example the Texas Department of Family and Protection Services.

Under this law, a child is generally considered to be a person under 18 years of age who is not, and has not been, married.

This requirement to report applies without exception to an individual whose personal communications may otherwise be privileged, including an attorney, clergy member, social worker, mental health professional, clinic or health care facility.

Professionals (i.e., faculty members and professional staff) must make the report no later than the 48th hour after the professional first suspects the abuse. A professional may not delegate or rely on another person to make the report.

Reports may be made to the University Police Department at 936-468-2608. Reports should then also be made to a supervisor or other administrator as required under university policy.

Any report should contain the name and address of the child, the name and address of the person responsible for the welfare of the child, and any other pertinent information concerning the alleged or suspected abuse or neglect, if known.

A person acting in good faith that reports or assists in the investigation of a report of alleged child abuse or neglect is immune from civil or criminal liability that might otherwise be incurred or imposed. Furthermore, the university may not suspend or terminate the employment of a professional for reporting in good faith suspected child abuse or neglect to that person's supervisor, other administrator, state regulatory agency, or law enforcement, or for cooperating in an investigation into the suspected abuse or neglect.

It is a criminal offense for a person who has cause to believe that a child's physical or mental health or welfare has been or may be adversely affected by abuse or neglect to knowingly fail to report as required by Texas law.

For reports concerning those that are not children, please see university policies 2.11, Discrimination Complaints and 2.13, Sexual Misconduct.