How involved do I get with a suspected child abuse case?


11 Years
Apr 25, 2009
South Texas
I'm still new to BYC, but I feel like this place is a wonderful sounding board for chickens as well as life experiences. I appreciate any feedback y'all can give.

Some of you may remember my post from a few days ago where I detailed my job loss. I wanted to preface my story with that to let you know that I am no longer affiliated with the high school and as such I'm no longer bound by law to any specific actions.

I teach 9th grade biology and had a student this year with a troubling home life, but would have never guessed until she told me. She attempted suicide back in early April which came as a shock to *everyone*. She was hospitalized for a few days and attended intense therapy for about 30 days or so, but seemed to be doing "better." About two weeks ago, she came into my room in tears. I pulled her into the back room where she told me that her dad was angry with her and drinking heavily. She told me how he drinks every night and takes out his anger (mostly verbally, but sometimes physically) on her and how he's abusive to her dog. I listened with a sympathetic ear while she talked, but then told her that she was way beyond my realm of experience and suggested that she go talk to her school counselor (as per S.O.P.). I went ahead and gave her my cell phone number in case of an emergency but told her to put it under my first name.

She seemed okay for the rest of the week and into the next. I saw her at the beginning of this past week and could tell she'd been crying. She came into my room during my conference period and told me that she'd called CPS up to the school but that they didn't believe her. Come to find out, Dad had told them that she was making everything up for attention and had them talk to one of her former friend's mother who said the same thing. CPS went on to threaten her with juvenile for filing false reports. Mom is not in the picture because she ran from him after years of repeated abuse. The girl had gone with Mom, but opted to come back because she missed her friends and hated moving around. Again, I listened in shock. The only thing I could think to tell her is to find a way to obtain hard evidence of the abuse. She needed pictures or a recording of her father in his drunken, abusive state. She seemed to think that was a good idea and I didn't see her again for the rest of the week.

She sent me a message yesterday asking if it was ok for her Mom to call me. I said that was fine and received a call this morning. Mom went on to chronicle the abuse she and the girl had endured for more than an hour. She tells me the Dad is very manipulative and a former member of law enforcement. He has also filed false CPS reports on Mom. So Mom has no custody and no visitation as per the outcome of the custody hearing Mom wasn't present at (because she was never notified). There are other grown children that have been through the abuse (though only one willing to testify), but she doesn't have the money for an attorney. All she asked me to do was to see if I could find the name of a local attorney who would be willing to help pro bono.

Ok. I don't know where to go from here. I have family that work in the legal field, so I can inquire about the attorney. Do you folks think I've gotten too involved? I'm a trusting individual, but I'm a skeptic at the same time. I'd hate to be inadvertently placed in the middle of a custody battle, but at the same time I can't ignore this girl's cry for help. I also know that our county CPS is *WAY* backlogged and if they even have a tiny seed of doubt that she's crying wolf, they'll place her at the bottom of the stack. I also know that I don't want some crazy man find out that I'm interfering and come banging on my door or destroying my property somehow. I'm fairly certain Dad doesn't know she's talking to me. So what should I do? Find the number and wash my hands? What if she calls me crying asking me to come get her?

Any advice? Thanks for reading another long post. And if this is in any way too controversial for this forum, I'll completely understand if this post is removed.
Don't get involed but only to call 180096abuse

let them sort it out, doesn't matter if he is in law enforcement. They abuse as well as others.

As a teacher you are obligated to report abuse, as well as i am being a foster parent.

Getting to envoled could lead to issues for you! the call is whats important not lawyers at this point. For all you know the kid and mom could be me it happens and then your a pawn in their game.

Stay out of it! CPI have tactics to find out if people are lying, if they felt she was, then she probally was lying. Sorry it's the truth!
They don't just come out hear what has to be said and then wash their hands of it! They investigate!!!
I have them here often with my foster kids. Let them do their job and let the mom get her own lawyer! Do you know how hard it is for a mother to not have custosy of their kids.....HARD! it says alot!

I wanted to preface my story with that to let you know that I am no longer affiliated with the high school and as such I'm no longer bound by law to any specific actions.

we as human beings are always bound by law to report suspected abuse!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1​
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the only way out for her is to get evidence and document document document everything..her mom can file pro se for motion to modify and since the girl is a teenager most judges will let her chose where she wants to live at that age...
Have you gone to the principle?

This is the a victim myself...people tell children and young persons to go to a teacher or someone they trust. She did. Now she's counting on you to save her.

Here's the other are limited to how much help you can offer BUT you certainly can get the right people involved and she should always know that you are there to lend an ear and help in the limited way that you can...but somethings have to be taken care of by the proper authorities.

If you know of a lawyer...sure give the mom the number.
If you suspect abuse...tell the person in charge at your school...there has to be protocols on this stuff, I assume.

...and otherwise, unfortunatley it is out of your hands as far as how much you can get involved.

You do not want to break the law and transport a minor.
You do not want to put yourself or anyone you know, as in your family, in jeopordy if this abusive man were to find out you are more involved in his affairs than he knows and would care...

Protect yourself first and foremost so you are able to help your students the best way you can.

if mom is unfit and soon to be dad unfit...she will be heading to foster care. This isn't a custody dispute it's an abuse dispute.

Once is the number 1-800-96abuse

CALL IT NOW! and be done.....
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I know that right now your sympathies are with this girl and I applaud you for that but she may indeed be manipulating you for attention. She probably needs some attention and your heart must be aching that she needs to find it in this way. Your call to the authorities is all the involvement you can afford at this juncture. I'd keep the door open and let her know that you're there to listen so that you can perhaps head off another suicide attempt but social services needs to be the final judge on this. Even if she's not going through abuse it's obvious that she needs some kind of help as does her whole family and I hope you can help her get it.
if mom is unfit and soon to be dad unfit...she will be heading to foster care. This isn't a custody dispute it's an abuse dispute.

Once is the number 1-800-96abuse

CALL IT NOW! and be done.....


You are in no position to sort this out, and could do nothing about it if you did know the truth, except report it, which is an obligation we all have. You have no business contacting or suggesting an attorney on the child's or mother's behalf.
Points taken.

When I said that I wasn't obligated to any actions, I meant that since I lost my job as a teacher effective yesterday, there is no "principal" to report this to any more. There is no more chain of command so to speak.

After our second conversation she and I *did* go meet with the principal. She told the girl to go talk to her counselor, which is what the girl was afraid of. The counselor makes a phone call to dad first thing which gets her in even more trouble.

I will make the phone call and see what they say.
I am also a TX 9th grade biology teacher and regrettably we ARE held accountable for these kids inordinately so....yes, the bio teacher should NOT be contacting an attorney but we are held liable for a great deal...

It's like I am a young, childless single woman yet I am stuck in predicaments in child-rearing teenagers that I do not feel emotionally prepared to handle sometimes...

I would just suggest documenting everything she tells you IN WRITING and leave the document in a locked place, preferably with a school social worker or a guidance counselor. God forbid anything DOES happen to the girl and not everything was reported in a prompt manner or in full detail as it happened over a time frame, TXBIOTEACHER could be held liable...and I would strongly suggest you join a professional organization for standby legal representation if you have not done so already.
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No matter what other's think you must do what you can live with.....

So, do what will allow you to sleep at night. It sounds like you are involved no matter what. The system is slow and is not set up to handle anything less then major physical abuse.

I was in a situation where what "mom" wanted for her daughter (including surgery) was not what the 13 year old wanted. God granted the 13 year old's wish, she died the night before surgery. I still feel like I lost a daughter. This child had no one else to help her. Every one I talked to would do nothing because she was a minor and the surgery was Mom's idea.

Please listen to the child. Someone who cares often makes life worth living.

Prayers to all of you....

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