Fights between students are usually nothing more than a few pushes and shoves. However, the brawls can sometimes get out of hand and result in severe injuries to a student. If this happens to your child, then the school is one of the parties you may hold responsible for the damages. This is because the school has a duty of keeping your child safe. Here are some of the specifics of the school's duty:

Providing a Safe Environment

The school is in charge of its environment, which includes not only its physical compound but also other activities or places over which it has jurisdiction. For example, the duty of providing a safe environment extends to school trip or science fairs organized by the school.

Here are some of the measures the school can take to make its environment safe and free of fights:

  • Crafting policies that outlaw fights in school.
  • Instituting surveillance to help detect fights before they get out of hand.
  • Preventing students from carrying weapons, such as knives and guns, which they can use to cause serious bodily injuries.

Intervening to Stop Fights

A school may not be able to stop all fights, but it should intervene to stop those that do break out. A teacher who sees students fighting has the duty to stop them either verbally or physically. In most cases, shouting for the students to stop or warning them of the consequences of fighting, may be enough to end the fight. In some cases, the teacher has to step in and use (reasonable) physical force (such as pulling the students apart) to stop the fight. Therefore, a school may be in trouble if one of its teachers witnesses a fight but does nothing to break it up.

Admonishing Those Who Fight

Those who fight must know that it is against the school's policy to do so. Admonishment should also extend to the involved students' parents. A verbal warning is not always enough, so the school must take disciplinary actions with violent students. For example, if a school's policy is to suspend those who fight in school, then it must do this without fear or favor. If you learn that the student who injured your child had been involved in prior fights without any admonishment, then you may hold the school responsible for the damages.

These are some of the duties schools need to take to prevent students from fighting and getting injured. These are just three examples; there may be other specifics not discussed here. If your child is injured in a fight, it's best to consult an injury attorney like Morales Law to determine whether or not the school breached its duty of keeping your child safe.