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Texas Child Molestation Laws

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Mandatory Reporters of Child Abuse and Neglect

Texas Family Code § 261.101 sets forth professionals who are required to report instances of child abuse and neglect (including sexual abuse). These professionals include teachers and daycare employees, professionals licensed by the state, medical care professionals, and juvenile probation officers and juvenile detention or correctional officers. Any other person who has cause to believe that a child has been adversely affected by abuse or neglect is also required to make a report.

Professionals must report to authorities within 48 hours after the professional first suspects that the child has been or may be abused or neglected.

Failure to report is a misdemeanor.

Sexual Abuse and Exploitation

Texas Fam. Code § 261.001 provides that ‘abuse’ means the following acts or omissions by a person:

  • Physical injury that results in substantial harm to the child or the genuine threat of substantial harm from physical injury to the child, including an injury that is at variance with the history or explanation given and excluding an accident or reasonable discipline by a parent, guardian, or conservator that does not expose the child to a substantial risk of harm
  • Failure to make a reasonable effort to prevent an action by another person that results in physical injury or substantial harm to the child
  • The current use by a person of a controlled substance in a manner or to the extent that the use results in physical, mental, or emotional injury to a child
  • Causing, expressly permitting, or encouraging a child to use a controlled substance

The term ‘abuse’ includes the following acts or omissions by a person:

  • Sexual conduct harmful to a child’s mental, emotional, or physical welfare, including conduct that constitutes the offense of indecency with a child, child sexual assault, or aggravated sexual assault
  • Failure to make a reasonable effort to prevent sexual conduct harmful to a child
  • Compelling or encouraging a child to engage in sexual conduct
  • Causing, permitting, encouraging, engaging in, or allowing the photographing, filming, or depicting of a child if the person knew or should have known that the resulting photograph, film, or depiction of the child is obscene or pornographic
  • Causing, permitting, encouraging, engaging in, or allowing a sexual performance by a child