Do Schools Have a Responsibility to Protect Students from Violence?


OMAHA, Nebraska. With the fear of school shootings and students returning to school for another school year, some districts are taking more serious measures to protect their students. According to Wired, one school district in Michigan uses a social media monitoring system to identify any problem areas or students who could be trouble. The monitoring systems use artificial intelligence and algorithms, and track for “trouble keywords” that could indicate a risk to the school district. The algorithm is good enough to identify violent images and language that shows conflict.

According to Wired, companies that monitor social media are gaining in popularity, especially after the Parkland shootings last year.

However, the ethics of monitoring students on social media is another matter entirely. Is it legal? Does it invade students’ privacy? Another problem with social media monitoring is that teens’ language may vary significantly from the language adults use. Context matters and human monitoring might be better able to truly assess risks. Furthermore, if these systems identify too many false positives, school districts could waste money and time, and potentially disrupt many more school days than are necessary.

Yet, no child should ever get injured in school due to another person’s violence.

With more school districts taking a proactive stance on preventing school violence, it raises the question: do schools have a responsibility to protect students from violence?

According to Inside Higher Ed, a California Court of Appeal found that colleges do not have a specific responsibility to protect students from criminal actions performed by other students. The ruling came after a student was stabbed on campus and pursued a lawsuit against the school, claiming it had failed to protect her. Yet, the law does not similarly protect high school, middle school, and elementary schools from responsibility. Public school students are required, under the law, to attend school.

However, in certain cases, colleges have been found negligent for failing to protect students who have made claims of sexual assault on campus. Under Title IX, students are protected from sexual assault and harassment and schools are required to enforce this law when violations are reported. However, this law may not go far enough when it comes to protecting students from violence. Schools should still take as much action as they can to protect students.

What can you do to protect your child? Teach your child to identify bullying behavior and to report it. Tell your child he or she should tell an adult if he or she sees another child with a weapon or if he or she notices violent language or behavior at school. Early reporting can prevent violence.

Finally, school officials at the public school level have a responsibility to prevent bullying and violence on campus—this includes physical fights and gun violence. If your child has been hurt at school, you may have the right to seek a personal injury lawsuit. Rensch & Rensch Law are personal injury lawyers in Omaha, Nebraska who work with car accident victims and with victims of personal injury. Visit us at to learn more.

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Suite 102
Omaha, NE 68114

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