TX Bill Would Ban Anonymous Child Abuse Reports

Texas State Capitol Building | Image by Martina Birnbaum, Shutterstock

The future of a bill meant to curb the false reporting of child abuse to child protection services now lies in the hands of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott after being passed by state senators on Tuesday.

House Bill 63 is a primarily Republican-led initiative authored by State Rep. Valoree Swanson (R-Spring). It passed the State House in late April and passed State Senate with 20 in favor and 11 opposing on May 17.

The bill aims to dissuade false reports of child abuse and thereby prevent the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) from wasting time investigating them.

“Many people nationally have raised concerns that the current system for reporting alleged child abuse is prone to exploitation by misinformed bystanders witnessing a meltdown by a child with a disability, vengeful parents in a custody dispute, and other bad actors,” an analysis of the bill stated.

Currently, people can anonymously file a report of suspected child abuse by calling the child abuse hotline at 800-252-5400 or submitting one online.

If Abbott signs the bill into law, individuals contacting DFPS to make a report would have to provide their name, phone number, and address to ensure greater accountability.

Kate Murphy, who is the director of child protection policy for the advocacy group Texans Care for Children, reported that of the investigations into the 12,473 anonymous reports of child abuse fielded by DFPS in 2022, approximately 1,000 yielded any evidence of abuse, according to The Texas Tribune.

Murphy argued that these figures suggest passing the bill would mean “those 1,000 children would be left to continue experiencing abuse and neglect or worse,” according to KWTX.

“Leaving children in danger can have disastrous consequences. Last year, 182 Texas kids died of abuse and neglect,” Murphy added.

As The Dallas Express reported, 6-year-old Noel Rodriguez-Alvarez from Fort Worth is presumed dead after reportedly last being seen by extended family members in November 2022.

His mother Cindy Rodriguez-Singh allegedly abused and neglected him.

She reportedly fed police false stories of Noel living with his father in Mexico when Child Protective Investigations (CPI) flagged his disappearance in March. Afterward, she fled the country with her husband to India and might soon face extradition back to the U.S.

As appears to be the case for Noel, of the 182 children who died as the result of abuse and neglect in Texas in 2022, the vast majority had no record of a CPI or monitoring by DFPS, according to a DFPS report.

As such, supporters of the new bill suggest that streamlining DFPS practices by requiring reporters to provide DFPS with their personal details might make following up on legitimate reports easier and weed out the false ones.

State Sen. Kevin Sparks (R-Midland) argued before the state Senate that the bill would avoid DFPS wasting time being used to carry out personal vendettas.

“Unfortunately, the DFPS and Child Protective Services can often be used as a weapon. A lot of times we see this in divorce cases. We probably all know of a circumstance where a family was needlessly traumatized because of an anonymous tip that was ultimately found to be false,” said Sparks, according to The Texas Tribune.

It remains to be seen whether Abbott will sign the bill into law.

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  1. TX Bill Would Ban Anonymous Child Abuse Reports – Round Up DFW - […] Dallas ExpressMay 20, 2023Uncategorized […]

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