When Inadequate Security Measures Not Only Lead to Assault, But Additional Harm Later in Life
In July, a student who was sexually assaulted in her high school filed a lawsuit against the board of education, high school, and school district, alleging that negligence displayed by all three–in particular, inadequate security measures–led to her assault by another student in a stairwell while she was walking to class. Specifically, her allegations claim that the security cameras in the stairwell were inoperable at the time, and the district failed to properly monitor students and provide sexual assault prevention policies and training; all of which resulted in the incident. She alleges that, as a result of the assault, she has not only been diagnosed with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, but also attempted suicide and found it difficult to return to school due to the emotional distress that she experienced and the fear she had of the assailant, who still attended her school.
We have, for far too long, underestimated the impact that failing to properly protect children has on them; not only in that moment; but for the rest of their lives. According to new research, abuse and neglect of kids through their mid-teens is linked to a higher rate of hospitalizations later on in life, the most common cause of that hospitalization being drugs, mental illness, and/or physical injuries. The study emphasizes the importance of protecting children in order to prevent ongoing health problems later in life, such as ensuring that there are adequate security measures in place in schools in order to prevent incidents that could lead to depression and other threats to their mental health for the rest of their lives.
The Duty of Care That Schools Owe Students
When you are a student on a campus, you are owed a minimum level of safety, including from third parties that have the potential to attack you. School administrators owe a duty of care to students, and must do everything reasonably possible to protect them from foreseeable death, harm, and injury. This includes repairing any “dangerous conditions” in a “timely manner,” which arguably covers inoperable security cameras in stairwells on school grounds. A court would likely rule that fixing an existing security camera is a reasonable precaution, especially given that stairwells are not usually monitored by teachers or security guards, leaving the cameras the only form of security available protecting students there.
What About Parental Liability?
In some instances, victims can also sue a minor’s parents in response to incidents like these (when the minor is still under the age of majority, or 18 in Florida for civil matters). Florida law dictates that courts have jurisdiction to order a child’s parents or guardian to render community service if it finds that they failed to make “a diligent and good faith effort to prevent the child from engaging in delinquent acts.” In addition, the court can order the parents to be responsible for any restitution ordered against the child. Victims can also try to use Florida’s laws on negligence and legal theories of vicarious liability to argue that they should be able to recover against an assailant’s parents.
Contact A Florida Negligence & Injury Lawyer
If you or a loved one has experienced harm or injury in Florida due to negligent or inadequate security measures, contact Tampa Bay inadequate security attorney Mark H. Wright to discuss your rights and options.