Situations involving possible abuse or neglect of a child and the steps taken to report may present themselves in many different ways. The video scenarios below provide two examples.
- In Making the Call, Suzy Smith, school counselor, will make a report to DFPS by phone with her concerns for Pablo, a six-year old student.
- In Submitting Suspicions, you will meet Lily. Lily’s teacher learns some information that leads her to submit an online report on what she feels is a non-urgent situation.
All characters and names appearing in this training are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
Making the Call for Pablo: Reporting Abuse/Neglect by Phone
Submitting Suspicions for Lily: Reporting Abuse/Neglect by Email
What if a reporter is unsure whether a situation or condition is a potential "warning sign"?
While it would be ideal to have a clear-cut guide that would determine whether any given situation constitutes abuse or neglect, there are many factors that determine whether a situation warrants an investigation. When in doubt, you should always err on the side of the child's safety by making a phone or Internet report.
The following situations in and of themselves do not meet the legal definitions of abuse or neglect. However, in combination with other factors, some of them might be warning signs:
- Truancy. (Note- this should be handled by the school's truancy officer)
- Parent is regularly or habitually late picking the child up from school or day care.
- Lack of immunizations or other "preventive" care.
- School-age child is home alone after school assuming the child is physically and mentally capable of caring for him or herself.
- A teen is engaged in sexual activity with someone who is not a relative or a caregiver and there is no indication the parents are benefiting from the relationship. Depending on the age difference, this may need to be reported to law enforcement.
- Sexual behavior or exploration between children that is appropriate for the developmental age of the children where no force or threats are involved and the age difference between the children is within 2 years.
- Lice infestations with no significant physical impact on the child, even when infestations are recurrent.
- A homeless family living in a car or tent, but there is no negative effect on the health of the child.
- Teen says he or she was “kicked out of the house”, but has not made an attempt to return home.
- Reasonable discipline that does not result in substantial harm or genuine threat of harm.
- Yelling or cursing at a child with no known significant effect on the child's functioning.
- Accidents, even when they result in injury.