Duty to Report Suspected Child Abuse and Mandatory Training & Examination Program for Employees of Campus Programs for Minors on Warning Signs of Sexual Abuse and Child Molestation

Policy number: 7.26

Policy section: Human Resources

Revised Date: November 13, 2023

1. Policy Statement

It is the policy of the University to comply with Texas mandatory reporting regulations.

2. Purpose

Texas law requires anyone with knowledge of suspected child abuse or neglect to report it to the appropriate authorities.

3. Applicability

This policy applies to all permanent and temporary full-time and part-time faculty, staff and student employees. This mandatory reporting applies to all individuals and is not limited to teachers or health care professionals. The law extends to individuals whose personal communications may be otherwise privileged, such as attorneys, clergy members, and health care professionals. Therefore, all University employees should be familiar with Texas law pertaining to reporting suspected child abuse or neglect.

4. Department Administrative Rules, Procedures, and Guidelines

The Department of Human Resources, under the purview of the Vice President for Business and Finance, has oversight and administrative responsibility for this policy and shall promulgate departmental rules, procedures, and guidelines pursuant to this policy.  Additional information can be found in Appendix A below and on the Human Resources website.

5. Questions

Questions regarding this policy should be directed to the Department of Human Resources at smuhr@smu.edu.

Appendix A: Related Laws and Requirements

Duty to Know Texas Law

All University employees should be familiar with Texas law pertaining to reporting suspected child abuse or neglect.

Texas Mandatory Reporting Law

Section 261.101 of the Texas Family Code mandates that anyone who suspects child abuse or neglect must report it immediately. The report may be made to:

  1. any local or state law enforcement agency, including the SMU Police Department; or
  2. the Department of Family and Protective Services.

Reporting Requirements

All persons are required to make the report immediately, and individuals who are licensed or certified by the state or who work for an agency or facility licensed or certified by the state and have contact with children as a result of their normal duties, such as teachers, nurses, doctors, and day-care employees, must report the abuse or neglect within 48 hours.

Abuse and Neglect

Texas law broadly defines "abuse" and "neglect" so that every action in which a child's physical or mental health or welfare has been or may be adversely affected is potentially covered. The statute explicitly excludes an accident or reasonable discipline by a parent or guardian that does not expose the child to a substantial risk of harm. However, if there uncertainty whether conduct constitutes abuse or neglect, members of the University community should always err on the side of the child's safety and report the incident.


A person acting in good faith who reports or assists in the investigation of a report of child abuse or neglect is immune from civil or criminal liability. Failure to report suspected child abuse or neglect is a Class A Misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment of up to one year and/or a fine of up to $4,000.


Section 51.976 of the Texas Education Code requires any individual employed in a position involving contact with minors at a campus program for minors to complete a training program approved by the State of Texas within the two years prior to the start date of the program, but no later than the 5th day of employment of the individual, by the campus program for minors. Recertification of training for each individual is required every two years.

Criminal Background Checks

Texas Youth Camps Administrative Code Rule 265.12 requires any individual who will have contact with minor participants must pass a criminal background check prior to participating in a campus program. Additional information can be found at Protection of Minors in Youth Programs on Campus.

Implication for Employees

All University faculty, staff and student employees are required at the time employment begins to successfully complete an approved training program on sexual abuse and child molestation. In addition, all contract agencies, vendors, or camp operators renting space and/or hosting camps on University campuses, or connected to University programs involving contact with minor children, must show evidence of completed training for all personnel prior to the start of the program or camp.

Law Enforcement Contact

Suspected child abuse or neglect must be reported immediately to the SMU Police Department at 214-768-3333. An immediate threat must be reported by calling 911.


Revised: November 13, 2023

Adopted: June 15, 2012