As a parent, it is important for you to be aware of warning signs that could indicate a child may have been or is being sexually abused. Sexual abuse in the Texas Family Code is defined as any sexual conduct harmful to a child’s mental, emotional, or physical welfare as well as a failure to make a reasonable effort to prevent sexual conduct with a child. A person who compels or encourages a child to engage in sexual conduct commits abuse. It is illegal to make or possess child pornography or to display such material to a child. Anyone who suspects that a child has been or may be abused or neglected has a legal responsibility, under state law, for reporting the suspected abuse or neglect to law enforcement or to Child Protective Services (CPS).
Possible physical warning signs of sexual abuse could be difficulty sitting or walking, pain in the genital areas, and claims of stomachaches and headaches. Behavioral indicators may include verbal references or pretend games of sexual activity between adults and children, fear of being alone with adults of a particular gender, or sexually suggestive behavior. Emotional warning signs to be aware of include withdrawal, depression, sleeping and eating disorders, and problems in school.
A child who has experienced sexual abuse or any other type of abuse or neglect should be encouraged to seek out a trusted adult. Be aware as a parent or other trusted adult that disclosures of sexual abuse may be more indirect than disclosures of physical abuse and neglect, and it is important to be calm and comforting if your child, or another child, confides in you. Reassure the child that he or she did the right thing by telling you.
As a parent, if your child is a victim of sexual abuse or other maltreatment, the school counselor or principal will provide information regarding counseling options for you and your child available in your area. The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) also manages early intervention counseling programs. [To find out what services may be available in your county, see Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, Programs Available in Your County.]
The following websites might help you become more aware of child abuse and neglect:
- Child Welfare Information Gateway Factsheet
- KidsHealth, For Parents, Child Abuse
- Texas Association Against Sexual Assault, Resources
- Texas Attorney General, What We Can Do About Child Abuse Part 1
- Texas Attorney General, What We Can Do About Child Abuse Part 2
Reports of abuse or neglect may be made to:
The CPS division of the DFPS (1‑800-252-5400 or on the web at Texas Abuse Hotline Website).
Lackland Independent School District provides annual training to all district employees to inform them of the different forms of child maltreatment and of our responsibilities as required reporters. All employees are reminded that their responsibility as required reporters does not include any requirement to receive permission or any form of input from other employees including supervisors, school nurses, or counselors. Lackland ISD supervisors will support any employee with reporting procedures. Further, as tenants on Joint Base San Antonio – Lackland Airforce Base, school personnel should also inform local Family Advocacy personnel of reports filed with Child Protective Services to include the case number that Child Protective Services assigns to the report.
Employees with questions regarding reporting procedures should contact their campus principal. They may also contact the Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction.