The school is supposed to be the second home for your children. You send your child to school because they need to learn things that will help them grow up to be knowledgeable adults; but aside from this, you willingly send them because you believe your child will be safe and taken care of when they get there. You think that the experienced personnel and staff of the school will be able to do more than teach your child, they will also be able to keep them safe from harm. Regrettably, this is not always the case.
Abuse of many forms still happens in schools which is very upsetting. One of the most common types of these abuses is bullying, but aside from this, physical abuse, emotional/mental abuse, and sexual abuse can happen inside of the school premises, and the perpetrator is not always a fellow student. In a case that occurred in 2015, a San Jose school district had to pay $15 million in an abuse settlement, and the abuser is a second-grade teacher.
As a parent, your main priority is the safety of your child, and although you want to be able to be with them 24/7, this is not possible since you need to work to put food on the table. So what can you do? One of the best things that can help you prevent your child from suffering any harm or abuse in school is to ask your child about how their school day went routinely. Try to take time every afternoon or evening to inquire about school work, friends, teachers, and even their lunch break. Observe your child for any signs of emotional distress or changes in behavior when you ask them these questions.
If worse comes to worst and you suspect that your child is suffering from abuse while they are in school, the best thing for you to do is to communicate with a school authority like the principal and air out your concerns. The school has a responsibility to care for your child while your child is within school premises and they should take action whenever there is an issue about abusive behavior. The California Constitution states that all students should have an inalienable right to attend campuses which are safe, secure, and peaceful.
Physical abuse, mental/emotional abuse, and sexual abuse that are perpetrated by another student is something that the school should also address, especially if the abuse or harassment has already been reported and if the situation is so severe that it deprives the victim access to the educational opportunities or benefits provided by the school. Abuse of students with a disability also falls under this protection, and additional provisions from the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) attach some more security for students with a disability.
Schools are also responsible for reporting suspected cases of child abuse. School personnel should immediately call the local police, sheriff’s department, or welfare department to report the suspected abuse and then submit a follow-up written report within 36 hours. A school district and its employees may be held liable for damages caused by failure to submit a mandatory report in cases of suspected child abuse.
As much as you want to protect your child from everything that might hurt them, there is only so much you can do and your child’s second home, the school that they attend, should be one of your partners in keeping your child safe. However, if the school fails to do this, you can always rely on the law. You may find a more detailed explanation about school liability here.
Is your child a victim of abuse in the school? Contact us at Hogan Injury for a consultation.
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