All Sawyer wanted to do was to protect himself from bullies and the mean kids in middle school. He wrote to his guidance counselor, "I would like to let you know that the bullying has increased. I would like to figure out some coping mechanisms to deal with these situations, and I would just like to put this on file so if something happens again, we can show that there was past bullying situations."
Parents are responsible for the protection and care of their children, and there may be legal consequences if a parent negligently fails to take reasonable steps to protect his or her child from harm. As with parents, entities and agencies charged with the care and supervision of children are responsible for the protection of their health, safety, and well-being. A partial list of such entities or programs include daycare centers, preschools, summer camps, YMCA centers, K–12 private and public schools, private schools that provide residences for students, and residential centers for adjudicated youth. When a child is placed into the care and custody of such an organization, that entity assumes control and supervision over the child comparable to parental care - and is held to even a higher professional standard of care established within the field of education.
In settings where children are supervised by adults, we often think about traditional settings, such as schools and summer camps. But these are not the only places where children participate in activities that require adult supervision and which can result in child injury cases. Some nontraditional settings include resort and vacation day care programs, community recreation centers, church-sponsored events, and Boy and Girl Scout activities, among others.
Isn't it interesting how the courts recognize taint in so many different contexts?1 We have an illegal search by the police and everything found during the illegal search becomes "fruit of the poisonous tree"-it is said to be tainted. The Houston Police Department's Crime Lab does not observe proper sterile procedures in handling DNA and the specimens are contaminated-they are said to be tainted. We have a lineup where the crime victim sees one White guy, three Hispanics, and two Blacks. The identification of the White guy is said to be tainted, the product of a suggestive or improper lineup.
When child abuse is alleged to have taken place in a school, daycare facility, preschool program, summer camp, or other entity responsible for the supervision and safety of children, there is always the possibility that the entity may be liable if negligence can be established. Schools and other entities with a duty to protect children often become embroiled in lawsuits alleging that breach of this duty was a proximate cause of a child's injuries. Though laws vary, states adopt a broad definition of child abuse, including physical and emotional abuse, neglect and abandonment, incest, sexual molestation, and sexual exploitation. Typically, a child abuse report must be made to a designated state agency responsible for child protective services when a person, in his or her official capacity, suspects or has reason to believe that a child has been abused or neglected, or knows that a child has been subjected to conditions that could reasonably be expected to result in harm.
A belief is a conviction adhered to often in the face of factual evidence to the contrary. This paper inevitably represents my beliefs moulded by my experience of working with teenagers in London and tempered by my knowledge of the work of my colleagues.
Children suffer the traumas and injustices of warfare and conflict without the ability to influence or control their circumstances. As refugees they become the flotsam of society drifting from one inhospitable country to another in search of safety. They have been with us for generations, their numbers fluctuating and their distribution changing as the adult world decides who to wage war on next.
Would you allow a person to use a wheelchair? Would you carry him or her? If using a wheelchair gives someone an unfair advantage in a race, should his or her time count the same as that of other runners? Would you allow a person to wear glasses for reading a test, even if they only help a little? What about glasses that are so strong that they give the person an ability to read faster than average? Would you allow a person to use a word processor if you knew that the person had a severe writing disability but had ideas that showed evidence of giftedness? Would you allow dictation for a gifted student who had a severe writing disability?
One wintry afternoon, a San Francisco-area attorney called me to ask if she could enlist my expertise for an assault and personal injury case involving a large high school where her teen-aged client had been viciously brutalized