DHC(LOCAL) - EMPLOYEE STANDARDS OF CONDUCT: CHILD ABUSE AND NEGLECT REPORTING
Any person who has cause to believe that a child's physical or mental health or welfare has been adversely affected by abuse or neglect has a responsibility under state law to immediately report the suspected abuse or neglect to an appropriate authority.
As defined in state law, child abuse and neglect include both sex and labor trafficking of a child.
A professional who has cause to believe that a child has been or may be abused or neglected or may have been a victim of indecency with a child has an additional legal obligation to submit a written or oral report within 48 hours of learning of the facts giving rise to the suspicion of abuse or neglect. A "professional" is anyone licensed or certified by the state who has direct contact with children in the normal course of duties for which the individual is licensed or certified.
A person is required to make a report if the person has cause to believe that an adult was a victim of abuse or neglect as a child and the person determines in good faith that disclosure of the information is necessary to protect the health and safety of another child or an elderly or disabled person.
Making a Report
Reports may be made to any of the following:
- A state or local law enforcement agency;
- The Child Protective Services (CPS) division of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) at (800) 252-5400 or the Texas Abuse Hotline Website;
- A local CPS office; or
- If applicable, the state agency operating, licensing, certifying, or registering the facility in which the suspected abuse or neglect occurred.
However, if the suspected abuse or neglect involves a person responsible for the care, custody, or welfare of the child, the report must be made to DFPS, unless the report is to the state agency that operates, licenses, certifies, or registers the facility where the suspected abuse or neglect took place; or the report is to the Texas Juvenile Justice Department as a report of suspected abuse or neglect in a juvenile justice program or facility.
An individual does not fulfill the person's responsibilities under the law by only reporting suspicion of abuse or neglect to the College President or another College District staff member. The College District shall not require an employee to first report the employee's suspicion to a College District or campus administrator.
In accordance with state law, the identity of a person making a report of suspected child abuse or neglect shall be kept confidential and disclosed only in accordance with the rules of the investigating agency.
A person who in good faith reports or assists in the investigation of a report of child abuse or neglect is immune from civil or criminal liability.
Failure to Report
By failing to report suspicion of child abuse or neglect, an employee:
- May be placing a child at risk of continued abuse or neglect;
- Violates the law and may be subject to legal penalties, including criminal sanctions for knowingly failing to make a required report; and
- Violates Board policy and may be subject to disciplinary action, including possible termination of employment.
It is a criminal offense to coerce someone into suppressing or failing to report child abuse or neglect.
Responsibilities Regarding Investigations
In accordance with law, College District officials shall be prohibited from:
- Denying an investigator's request to interview a child on campus in connection with an investigation of child abuse or neglect;
- Requiring a parent or College District employee be present during the interview; or
- Coercing someone into suppressing or failing to report child abuse or neglect.
College District personnel shall cooperate fully and without parental consent with an investigation of reported child abuse or neglect.
Adverse Employment Action Prohibited
The College District prohibits any adverse employment action, including termination or discrimination, against any employee who in good faith reports child abuse or neglect or participates in a related investigation.
The College District shall provide training to employees as required by law. Training shall address reporting requirements and techniques to prevent and recognize sexual abuse, trafficking, and all other maltreatment of children.