Residents who send their children to New Jersey’s schools may understand that from time to time teachers will have to discipline those children, but they still have every right to expect that punishment will not be cruel or harm a child long-term. If a school or a school employee oversteps the bounds of reasonable discipline and causes a child injury because of its recklessness, the school may have to pay the family of that child compensation.
In another state recently, a family sued a country school district and a former elementary principal in that district for what they describe as excessive and traumatic discipline. According to the family, their son received eight strokes of a paddle after he was caught tossing objects, specifically rocks and crayons. The boy was five years old.
The parents say that the child was bruised and his bottom was inflamed after the discipline. Because the boy did not want to go back to school after the experience, his parents pulled him out of the school and began homeschooling him instead. Although the principal was originally disciplined and transferred to an assistant principal’s position, it now appears that she no longer works for the school system. The principal at one time also faced criminal charges, although the outcome of those charges is unclear.
Unfortunately, not all child injuries are “accidents,” strictly speaking. As in the case here, sometimes people to whom parents entrust their children betray that trust and hurt those in their care. Whether it came from a fit of passion or a misguided effort to correct the child, it is not acceptable for a caregiver to leave a child emotionally scarred long-term because of “discipline”. Those who do overstep these basic boundaries may have to pay compensation to the victims and their families.
Source: The Daily Caller, “Ouch! Parents file $1.7 million lawsuit over excessive paddling,” Eric Owens, Sept. 2, 2013