reporting assaults in schools

I have a question for legal dopers. If a person of authority (ie teacher) observes one child hitting another (lets say a young child and lets say the teacher successfully intervenes to stop the attack), how is it that the person of authority does not have to report this incident to the police as an assault and battery? One person physically hits another-as I understand it the very definition of battery, and the teacher does not report this crime. How can the teacher and school system get away with failing to report it? I understand the practical matter that the police would be swamped with petty schoolyard tussles, the kids would be traumatized, the school would be disrupted, etc. I agree that reporting to the police is a bad thing. What I don’t understand is the legal justification for not reporting this. No, my kid wasn’t attacked in school. This is just (thank goodness) a theoretical question on my part.

I am aware that parents can and do file charges in some of these cases, I don’t know the outcomes. My question is limited to the responsibilities of the people of authority who have direct knowledge of the incident.

There isn’t much responsibility at least in regards to young children. They are kids and don’t live up to the same legal standard as adults. Teachers simply use their best judgment on this and it has gotten more strict over time. It is ridiculous to arrest a 6 year old over a playground tussle but it may be completely appropriate to arrest a gang of 16 year olds that cornered a lone person against a fence and kicked him until he is bloody. That is what teachers and principals do and they usually do it well but sometimes they don’t.

The principles office is a recognized public authority to deal with those types of things and cases can be moved to the superintendents office, some school specific hearing body, or to the police if there is imminent danger to other students. They exist outside of the police and the DA’s office although it could certainly be moved there if the case warrants it. This is an established public procedure to deal with minor juvenile transgressions and it would be futile to ask the courts to deal with such a thing although, admittedly, it happens.

This varies from state to state, but some states do mandate that batteries be reported to law enforcement. It usually has to meet a certain standard, though, like there has to be some kind of physical injury. School administrations are typically given a lot of discretion because, as you said, reporting every single thing would be chaotic and a waste of resources. I guess the answer to your question is that they are “justified,” by the law itself which spells out the specific circumstances for when LE should or should not be called.

Also, kids under a certain age cannot be held legally responsible for certain crimes anyway.

In my last high school, I know of a situation where a librarian was held up at gunpoint shortly after she arrived at school. No official police report was ever filed and the teachers were not warned by the administration for their safety. (I found out through back stairs gossip and verified it.)

The last time that a gun was found in my classroom was not reported to the police either. (The student was removed from my classroom and I wasn’t told why or I would have reported it.) I found out about it months later.

I have had to step in between two students ready to swing at each other and I’ve seen fights break out in the hallway, but I never had a fight in my classroom in the twenty years that I taught. I never had one student strike another.

I did have students that murdered other students, but not during class.

I’m sure this would vary by state, but I know of no law that requires a teacher, or anyone else to report a petty misdemeanor to the police. Again, this would vary by state, but I believe that in Florida a citizen is required to report to police any violent FELONY that he witnesses, but nothing else.

This is a problem with a lot of these questions on this board. In the U.S. many factors are different depending upon which state you live in. What may be legal in Texas will get you 10 years in prison in California.

And many Dopers are from other countries, which compounds the matter more. I think any legal questions here need to contain the Country and, if in the U.S., the state where the question takes place…

Thanks for all the replies. And jtgain’s point is well taken, I should have identified the country and while identifying the state would have made the answer more specific ( Louisiana for instance), I am interested in a more general spread of observations.

Again, Thanks for the insights into this.