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Texas lawmakers consider bill to reduce child abuse and neglect

Children are the future, and providing a nurturing and supportive growth environment is one way to ensure that they reach their physical and emotional maturity. However, as any Dallas family violence attorney knows, child abuse can cause lasting damage.

A North Texas group, the Texas Association for the Protection of Children, is supporting SB 426, a bill that provides for home visiting programs to assist qualifying families in order to reduce neglect and child abuse among the poor. It is sponsored by State Senators Jane Nelson, Bob Deuell and Royce West, who represent areas in North Texas. The bill would pair professionals, such as social workers and child development specialists, with new, young families and low-income parents to provide in-home care. The bill is also intended to increase accountability by acting as part of a system to ensure that Texas prioritizes investing in such programs.

While the definition and laws vary by state, child abuse generally encompasses physical and mental harm, sexual abuse or neglect of a child. Many states have mandatory reporting laws that require certain categories of professionals, including doctors and teachers, to report instances of abuse to child protective services. Child protective services will typically conduct an investigation. If child protective services concludes that there was evidence of child abuse, there are several kinds of intervention, that can include placing the child in foster care, and in extreme situations, terminating parental rights.

However, separating a child from the parents can be traumatic and disruptive to the child's emotional growth. The bill aims to reduce the instances of such drastic measures by working with parents prior to any incidence of abuse through both education and assistance.

Source: dfw.cbslocal.com, "Group Seeks Support For Child Protection Measure," March 14, 2013

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