Why are student-on-student crimes in high schools (like assault) often prosecuted under school rules only, and not law?



Why are student-on-student crimes in high schools (like assault) often prosecuted under school rules only, and not law?

In: Other

I think they are prosecuted, just only if it rises to a certain level. They probably have rules to determine what’s reportable to police.

TLDR: Bullying isn’t seen as serious enough to warrant involving the authorities. It would require a very serious event for the Police to even want to get involved with bullying. For example serious physical injury. Teachers as care givers are empowered to act on the behalf of parents to punish children and discipline to try to correct behaviors but today there are strict limits on what they can do.

I recall something I told the High School principal in my last year of High School when after being bullied relentlessly for years they still refused to act on it.

“When you bully a person in High School it’s just boys being boys, but when you’re an adult suddenly it’s called assault and harassment and it becomes a crime.”

In hindsight the amount of harassment I was receiving would have been adequate for a restraining order as an adult. But bullying is accepted by a lot of people as just a part of growing up, and that it toughens people up, or some other nonsense. That’s why it’s called bullying instead of harassment or assault.

Children are also psychologically very different from adults so depending on their age you have to use different techniques to try to correct behaviors.

Bullying is a serious problem but it’s rarely treated as a crime. Getting evidence and witnesses to prove assault to the Police with children is very difficult and showing that it’s bad enough warrant jail time is even harder. Bullying is so common place and seen as relatively minor (compared to things like gang violence, threatening people with firearms, or murders, for example) so the attitude is to treat it as a psychological problem and to use punishment to correct the problem. School Guidance counselors meanwhile have limited resources and are limited on what they can do without parental permission. Since bullying is often caused by problems at home the parents of bullies often a big part of the cause and refuse the treatment.

Another factor is that having a criminal record is life limiting and there’s an attitude that you should avoid calling the police at all costs because of the long term effect it could have on the bullies life. Police similarly won’t charge a juvenile with a crime like assault unless it’s extremely serious. But the long term psychological effects on those being bullied aren’t considered in the equation.

The attitude used to be that bullying is just something kids do. Corporal punishment used to be commonplace, suspensions were rare, and calling in the police was virtually unheard of unless someone was serious injured or killed. The classic problem being that reporting a bully to authorities often just makes the problem worse as they later take it out on those who reported them.

Schools today are a lot harder on bullying than even a decade ago, but it’s still a massive problem. Anti-bullying campaigns often have the opposite affect of making bullying more commonplace as the bullies by definition won’t follow the prescribed prevention techniques, or worse actually end up learning how to be better bullies from the training.

It often falls on the parents to pay for expensive psychological treatment for their children so it often doesn’t happen for financial reasons, or a straight refusal to admit the problem with their child. Without a legal intervention the schools and the bullies parents will try anything to prevent their child from being expelled but that may be the only recourse in the long run.

If the victim files a police report, and the police can gather enough evidence, then for sure the crown/state can take care of it and charge the suspect. It is possible for the school to act according to their own regulations, and for the crown state to act with their own.

The problem with criminal charges is that evidence might be hard to come by, especially for assault. Are there any witnesses that will testify, is it a clear case of assault, more of a fight? Since the crown/state has to make the case, they might go nowhere without due to a good chance that they will not be able to convince the court.

For the same reason that your brother doesn’t get charged with assault (typically) for hitting you…they can, but it’s not normal and not required.

In most places, teachers operate under a legal situation called “in loco parentis”. It comes from English common law, but basically means somebody who’s acting in the capacity of a parent but hasn’t adopted the kid. They have parent-like responsibilities, including disipline.

It’s up to the teacher to decide what the appropriate punishment is, just like your parents can ground you (or not) without asking the state to do anything…if they think it warrants police involvement they can (and will) involve law enforcement. But most school issues don’t rise to the level of needing the police, even if they’re technically crimes. If you stole your buddies pencil case that’s certainly technically theft, but it makes a hell of a lot more sense to put you in detention than to bring in the police and courts into it.

Prosecutors don’t want to have to deal with it.

Our schools literally got a letter from our city prosecutor in 2009 saying as much.

But you’re talking one major step in an awful direction for an 8th grader. Especially if it’s their first offense and mutual combat (even if it’s textbook assault and battery).

There really is no middle because there’s no funding. There are things that can be done to prevent violence at the school level, but it means more staff.

My mom worked at a “bad school” and they will absolutely prosecute. But. If you put a kid in prison at 13, the person is probably never, ever going to become a productive member of society. It’s been studied and kids going to jail is just basically no redemption, life of crime, issues for the rest of their lives. The recidivism rate in America is abysmal but for people who went in as minors it’s damn near 100%.

So if they’re going to prosecute a kid, it better be something good. For instance a kid at this school was fooling around and knocked a teacher down the stairs accidentally. He broke her hip. He was prosecuted for assault. They basically had to prosecute so she could have her medical bills paid (insurance. Yay America). Everyone lost and it sucked for everyone involved. She and the student wished anything that it could’ve been taken back but having your hip broken is $$$$.

They would much rather send the kid to special schools, have wraparounds, do anything to keep the kid out of the system. Jail is criminal school and if an impressionable teen goes there, they’ll end up fucked for life. Sometimes it can’t be helped. Sometimes the kids turn out to be rotten adults anyways. But, teachers on the whole really care about kids and don’t want to see a person’s entire future ruined because they screamed “I’ll stab you” in an adolescent rage.