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What If A Bully Injures Your Child?

When we send our children off to school, our hope is that while they are there, they get a quality education, make some friends, and learn essential skills and knowledge that will help them not just with their career prospects, but with their ability to socialize and live their lives. What we don’t hope is that they encounter people who, for whatever reason, take an intense dislike to them, and that dislike is strong enough that they act on it and actively seek to harm your child.

Bullying is not something any parent wants to have happen to their child, but across schools all over the world, it happens everyday. Most of the time this results in emotional distress, perhaps some minor physical injury as a result of harassment or fighting. Sometimes, however, the results can be lifelong, crippling, or even lethal.

In April of this year, two separate incidents in California and Delaware resulted in the deaths of two children because of bullying. A 16 year old girl in Delaware was beaten to death in the girls’ bathroom because of an argument about boys. In California, a 12 year old boy was stomped on the chest by a bully, passed out due to the injuries and later died in the hospital.

In both of these cases, it is quite obvious that this was no accident. Other students deliberately set out to harm these children. They may not have intended to end their lives, but there was intent to harm in their actions. In a case like this, what recourse do parents have? Who must answer for this?

School Issues

One thing that is complex in a case like this is whether or not the school shares any responsibility in the injury or death of a child. Different school board districts have different policies with regards to bullying, and this gives them some variance in legal latitude. For example, some schools will qualify a child as having been bullied if child has been harassed regularly by the same child. If it is an isolated incident, some schools may claim that an incident is not bullying, and therefore, they had no legal responsibility to resolve it.

The key factor for involving a school in legal responsibility is whether they can be accused of negligence. That is, if the school was aware of the bullying, but chose to do nothing and allowed the bullying to continue, then personal injury or wrongful death via negligence may be an option. If school claims there was no knowledge, they can’t be expected to act on something they know nothing about.

The Parents

Obviously, the other big issue here is the parents of whoever inflicted the injury or death. It is the responsibility of parents to raise their children in a manner that leads to more responsible, productive citizens. Something has clearly gone wrong with the way a child is raised when that child resorts to violence—especially lethal violence—in order to resolve disputes. When one child severely injures—or kills—another child, the parents need to answer for this.

In either case, one of the first things you should do is consider your legal options with a trial attorney. Children should not be severely injured or killed while at school. If this happens because of the direct actions of another student, there are legal ramifications.

Michael J. Babboni's wide-ranging legal career is based on the strong belief that everyone should be treated fairly and have access to effective legal help. Michael began putting his beliefs in action by helping the people of St. Petersburg Florida get what they are owed in civil trials fighting to protect families by making corporations pay, and honor their obligations.

What If A Bully Injures Your Child?

Goldman Babboni Fernandez
Murphy & Walsh

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