Helping Teachers Protect Children From Abuse and Neglect

TMA Written Testimony

House Public Education Committee
House Bill 111 by Rep. Mary Gonzalez

Feb. 19, 2019

The Texas Medical Association, representing more than 53,000 physicians and medical students, appreciates the opportunity to submit our comments on HB 111 by Rep. Mary Gonzalez. 

Specialized training for employees of school districts and open enrollment charter schools – as already required by the Texas legislature – has been an important and valuable measure in ensuring that Texas’ school employees are well informed on current issues such as human trafficking and sexual abuse that many children face in their homes and communities.

Rep. Gonzalez’ proposal will ensure that school employees have the information and tools to reach all children who are high-risk, in particular children with cognitive disabilities. Children with intellectual and learning disabilities represent almost five percent of the school population.  This population requires specialized instruction and support systems to learn and participate in activities to the fullest extent possible. Students often interact with multiple staff members, including teachers, therapists, and paraprofessionals who can identify signs of abuse and neglect of these vulnerable children.

Many of our members in primary care practice deal regularly with screening and identification of child abuse. Children with cognitive and other disabilities are at least three times more likely to experience some form of maltreatment, abuse, or neglect than children without special needs.  

We appreciate Rep. Gonzalez’ proposal, which acknowledges that children with special needs may be at greater risk of abuse and maltreatment – and that this requires a better understanding of the signs and symptoms of abuse. We support this legislation and thank Rep. Gonzalez for her actions to support school employees and the children and families at high-risk of abuse.

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Last Updated On

April 22, 2019

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