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Summary: Under current law (Section 261.101 of the Family Code) a "professional" such as a teacher, doctor, nurse, or child care provider, must report to authorities if the professional "has cause to believe that a child has been abused or neglected or may be abused or neglected" within 48 hours of the suspicion. HB 1205 specifies that if a professional who is required to report under Section 261.101 "knowingly fails to make a report" of child abuse or neglect, the offense is a Class A misdemeanor. HB 1205 enhances the penalty for such an offense to a state jail felony if it is shown at trial that the defendant intended to conceal the child abuse or neglect.
Analysis: Statute already requires certain professionals to report suspected child abuse or neglect. This legislation simply specifies the penalties for failing to comply with the law. The penalties are set on a graduating scale so that a professional who is demonstrated at trial to have knowingly failed to report suspected abuse or neglect and is proven to have "intended to conceal" that neglect is held to a higher standard of responsibility. Professionals required to report suspected abuse are specified in statute. We encourage legislators to support HB 1205.