Today is the first day of school for Williamson County. Our daughter Kate is entering 5th grade this year at Scales Elementary. Although she was embarrassed, she did relent and allow this picture upon arrival at school. And while it seems like just yesterday that we were going to the Boo Hoo breakfast for kindergarten parents not that much has changed. She still worries about liking her teachers, the dynamics of friendships and how much homework will be assigned. And, of course, as her parents, we still worry about everything, which brings me to some very important safety reminders for us all.
The first reminder is about the duty of all adults with respect to reporting abuse and neglect of children. As I read the news this morning, one of the first stories I came across was about a lawsuit that has just been filed again Brentwood Academy. The lawsuit alleges a 12-year old boy was repeatedly raped and sexually assaulted by other classmates without appropriate intervention by school staff. The lawsuit alleges the parents of the victim learned of the assaults from other parents who in turn learned of the assault from their children.
As this case is in its infancy, we obviously do not know all of the facts and whether the allegations are true, but we do know the victim and his family allege that other parents, coaches, a private counselor and school administrators knew of the assaults but failed to take appropriate action. So here is the reminder: Everyone has a mandatory duty by law to immediately report child abuse or neglect. This is true whether the abuse is physical or sexual in nature. This is true even if you only suspect abuse or neglect is occurring. If you have a reasonable suspicion of abuse or neglect, report it to local law enforcement or the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services. Reporting can be done anonymously and anyone reporting in good faith is immune from any civil liability. If you don’t report, you could be found guilty of a misdemeanor.
What else can you do to help keep kids safe this school year?
- Kids will be walking to and from school and entering and exiting buses. Please put your phone down and avoid other distractions and be on the lookout for them.
- For the same reasons, please slow down especially in school zones.
- Pay attention to any food allergies that may exist in your child’s classroom and talk to your kids about sharing food with kids who have food allergies. It is incredibly scary for parents of kids with food allergies because they have to rely on others to make sure their child does not have a reaction because of some accidental ingestion, etc.
- If you drive your kids to and from school, make sure they buckle up. In the excitement of telling you about their school day, etc., kids can forget this incredibly important step.
At the Law Offices of John Day, we are heart-broken every time we have to represent a family with an injured child so let’s all do what we can to keep kids safe. And if you are a family in need of a lawyer for an injured child, we offer a free, confidential consultation. Our award-winning lawyers handle all injury cases on a contingency basis so we only get paid if we win. Call us today at 615-742-4880 (Brentwood) or 615-867-9900 (Murfreesboro) or 866-812-8787 (toll-free)