Premises Liability And School Bullying

The issue of bullying has gained a lot of attention over recent years. Schools are supposed to have policies in place to protect students from bullying and give them a safe environment to learn. Despite the media attention, it is not clear that schools have taken the necessary steps to create such an environment. Premises liability lawsuits are one growing method of holding schools accountable when they allow students to be injured by bullies. Schools are well aware of the likelihood that some students will be the targets of abuse, harassment and bullying and they have the legal responsibility to control the situation and avoid harm.

Despite the emphasis placed on stopping bullying behavior, some parents have expressed concerns about schools ignoring reports of abusive behavior. Florida law requires a school to investigate if bullying is reported. They are required to report incidents of bullying to the state. One mother at a school in the St. Lucie County school district claims she made repeated reports regarding the bullying of her son, a boy with ADHD and Asberger’s, over several years, including two years in which the school reported no incidents of bullying.

The chances that a school would go two years without a single incident of bullying are likely remote. Some studies indicate that as many as 40 percent of students are the victims of bullying at some point. Middle-school is the time when most victims are targeted. Schools that turn a blind eye to bullying are not providing a safe atmosphere for children to learn. Any injuries that result from ignoring bullying behaviors are the responsibility of the school.

Source: WPTV News Channel 5, “School bullying: Are schools doing enough to stop the abuse?,” by Katie LaGrone, 13 February 2013