The beginning years of a child’s life are the most important for their development. Therefore, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) through the Child Protective Services work to ensure the protection of the children of Texas that may be being abused or neglect. In today’s blog we will focus more on what neglect is rather than abuse.
As a parent to a child, the parent-child relationship automatically creates a liability for a parent who must provide and care for that child. When a parent who owes a legal duty to their child fails to prevent harm, this is known as an omission to act. This omission in return creates a significant harm and risk for your child known as neglect. Neglect is failing to provide for your child’s basic needs. Neglect can come in 4 ways:
The failure to provide a child with every person’s basic needs like food, clothing, and shelter.
The failure to provide essential medical or dental care especially for a child’s known condition.
The failure to enroll your school-age child in school, or to provide special education for a needing child, and allowing your child to miss school excessively.
The failure to provide emotional support, love, and affection. Exposing your child to sexual, spousal, pet, and drug of alcohol abuse.
Signs of Neglect
Neglect is pattern of behavior and you should be cautious and observant if you are around a child to make note of anything out of the peculiar. You should begin to question the possibility of neglect when you notice: a child is excessively absent from school, is always hungry, steals food or money, lacks medical or dental care, has dirty clothing, has bruises and scars over their bodies, or is afraid to speak out when questioned about their condition.
Although there are many more examples that can display a child may be going through neglect, you should also be cautious of how a child displays their emotions. If a child is standoffish and does not want to play with their peers, it is important to get them the help they need. Neglect can also be displayed by random outburst of aggressive behavior like talking back or getting into fights.
Most often the signs are always there, it is up to an adult who has a voice to speak out, to not overlook these signs.
Failure to Thrive
Failure to thrive is a medical study that has been conducted for infants and children usually younger than 2 who are malnourished and underweight and are not physically growing in height. This is an actual medical condition that must be diagnosed by a child’s physician.
When an infant is being physically and medically neglected these are two prime underlying causes of a child developing a failure to thrive. If a child is medically neglected however, the opportunity for a physician to discover this is slim.
This is because when a child is an infant, they are routinely seen by their physicians for wellness check-ups to determine if they are at a healthy weight and height. Most infants cannot speak out against neglect being done to them, so it is even more important to pay attention to infants for their signs of neglect.
Consequences of Child Neglect
As mentioned above, some parents may not realize how crucial the developmental years of their child’s life are. The effects of neglect can affect a child in their social, behavioral, and cognitive development. Without establishing these foundations in your child’s life, a child can display deficiencies in their learning abilities, speech, and being able to create and establish relationships.
Now turning to the legal consequences of child neglect, if it has been reported that child abuse or neglect has occurred CPS will investigate because they are under an obligation by law. The CPS caseworker will work in what is known as a preliminary investigation to determine if the allegations could be true, they will also determine if the child is safe is your custody. From there they will make the decision if they should move forward or not.
Although this blog will not focus on the exact process of a CPS investigation, it is important to know that this information is described in greater detail in a previous blog. To find out more information about the CPS investigation please read our blog, “What does a Texas CPS investigation look like?”
The bottom line is if you believe you will be investigated by CPS, what you should be doing is educating yourself on the procedure and understanding your rights. It would be in your best interest to begin consulting with an attorney that will be able to offer expert advice about how you should move forward. Here at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, we have those experts who are ready to help you in the most uncertain of times.
What to do if You Believe Your Child is Being Neglected
If you suspect that a child is being neglected, you should know that your help may make the difference that saves a child’s life. The state of Texas provides a hotline for people to anonymously call and report incidents of child abuse/neglect. This hotline is toll-free and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and nationwide.
To report by phone call 1-800-252-5400. If you would like to report online via a secure website please visit the following hyperlink: https://www.txabusehotline.org/Login/Default.aspx. You will receive a response within 24 hours. Referring to the website will also give you valuable information to know when to use what reporting method.
Remember, if you suspect a child is being abused/neglect your call may save a child’s life. As with recent events and devastating news about many children being failed at the hands of CPS all around the country you never know what you can do to make a difference. That old saying applies perfectly in these kinds of situations: “It’s better to be safe than to be sorry.”