You can get ready for a situation like that by building a network of friends, relatives, and neighbors you can call on to watch your kids. Try taking turns watching a friend’s children so when either of you needs help on short notice you can call the other. If you know responsible adults who don’t have kids, offer to mow their lawn, run an errand, or take care of their house or pet when they are out of town.
You can also find licensed daycare at Texas Child Care Search.
It depends on the maturity and abilities of each child. Of course, you should never leave an infant or young child alone or unsupervised. They need to be old enough, mature enough, and capable enough to be safe and to get help if they need it. Here are things to consider:
- The age, emotional maturity, and capability of your child or children.
- Is the home safe for a child of that age?
- Is the neighborhood safe or are there special hazards or risks?
- What is your child's ability to respond to illness, fire, weather, or other emergencies?
- Does your child have a mental, physical, or medical disability?
- Will your child know where you are and how to reach you or another responsible adult?
- How many children are being left unsupervised?
- How long will they be left alone and how often?
There are a variety of things you and your organization can do to help prevent child abuse. Check out your options in How You Can Help.
You can't tell by looking. Child abusers can be from any ethnic group or income level. While most adults don't abuse children, an abuser is usually a person the child knows, such as a parent, neighbor, or relative.
Listen to your children if they say they don't feel comfortable around someone and let them know they can talk to you about anything.
- Tell your kids to say "no" and “get away,” and to tell you right away if anyone tries to touch or hurt them. Tell your children to talk to you or another responsible adult such as a teacher or grandparent.
- Teach your kids the difference between a good secret, like a surprise party, and a bad secret, like something that makes them uncomfortable. Make sure your kids understand that it’s ok to tell bad secrets.
You are not alone. Everyone needs help sometimes and there's help out there for you. Take a look at what's available in your community.
To report child abuse in your state, go to the Child Welfare Information Gateway.
Give a time-out. Experts say this helps everyone calm down. Make sure the length of time-out matches the age of the child (3 minutes for a 3-year-old, 4 minutes for a 4-year-old, etc.).
Encourage good behavior. Praise your children when they do something well or follow directions. Give them a pat on the back and point out what they did well.
You'll find more good ideas in our Parenting Tips.
In 2015, 66,721 Texas children were abused or neglected by their parents or other caregivers, and 171 of them died because of abuse or neglect. [learn more]
No, not in Texas. Punishment becomes abuse if it causes injury. A blow that leaves a mark, bruise, welt, or swelling, or requires medical attention probably would be considered abuse.
Learn more about child abuse in Recognizing Abuse and Neglect.
There are different types of neglect. Neglect includes failing to provide for a child's basic physical, medical, emotional, or educational needs. Leaving a young child home alone or unsupervised or failing to provide needed medical care may also be considered neglect. [find out more]
People who abuse their kids often love them, but many things can lead them to do things they regret. Things like trouble managing stress, lack of parenting skills, or drug or alcohol abuse can all be factors that contribute to child abuse. Read more about why people abuse children on this website.