Advice - should we call the cops and report an assault at school?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by seriously, May 10, 2011.

  1. seriously

    seriously New Member

    My difficult child 2 stayed after school today to hang out with a friend and watch the kickball tournament. He called me at 4:30 and wanted me to come get him. Something about his voice made me ask if something was wrong.

    He said yes but he didn't want to talk about it. I insisted and he said that another kid had choked him and he'd passed out.

    I asked who was there with him and made him let me talk to the Special Education teacher that was there. She confirmed his story and said the principal was with the other boy.

    What happened was that several kids started playing cards together. They all knew each other a little. One kid has a speech impediment. A couple of the other kids teased him - imitated him I guess. Then my kid followed suit and said the same thing.

    For whatever reason that was it. The kid who was being teased got up came around the table and grabbed difficult child 2 from behind and put him in a choke hold until my kid passed out. All the kids present agreed that the other kid didn't stop until mine had passed out.

    I went to the school as fast as I could get there. When I got there the Special Education teacher and principal were both talking to difficult child 2.

    The Special Education teacher kind of freaked me out cause she was telling my son that he should avoid this other kid. She told him he shouldn't go to the bathroom during passing period that it was the most dangerous place to go.

    I'm like - Okay this is not what I want to be hearing. And she would not stop. I finally interrupted her and said excuse me I need to talk to my son. I asked how he was and I could see that one side of his neck was swelling up.

    The principal said that she wanted to give me more information about what had happened and I told her I knew that mistakes had been made by every one but that violence was never an acceptable response.

    She said absolutely in a very affirming way. She said that there would be consequences for the other kid but we would not know about it.

    I interrupted her to say that I had talked to my son's doctor's office on the way there and they said I needed to take him to ER if he had neck pain or other signs he'd been injured. So I needed to take him there now.

    She said she'd talk to me tomorrow and we left.

    My son is fine. His neck is sore and he's mad but otherwise he's fine.

    He wants us to call the cops and press assault charges. He said this kid has done "it" before to other kids. I asked what he meant and he said he saw him choke another kid but not all the way to passing out.

    I am on the fence about this I guess mainly because it makes my life more complicated when I am up to my neck in work and draws more attention to my son and our family. It means more contact with the cops, having to explain it to his probation officer and everyone else, maybe have to take time for court etc.

    On the other hand it is really not OK for a kid to walk around that campus who thinks it's OK to choke people when he's mad. Especially if he thinks that no one is going to call the cops on him.

    Apparently the school did NOT call the cops which kind of makes me think this was not as big a deal as it seems.

    So - your thoughts?? Should we or shouldn't we call the cops?
  2. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    This gets really tricky.
    On one hand - you know what you saw/heard and the impact on your son
    On the other hand - you have the school's reaction

    How does your son feel about going to school tomorrow? If he's going to be afraid to go to school, then you have to do SOMETHING - but not necessarily involving the police... If you're not getting satisfactory answers that your child will be protected, you may have to go up the chain of command...

    What would the negative fall-out be from pressing charges? (depends on where you live, who knows whom, whether there are options as to switching schools if necessary, what the other kids and parents at school would say/do toward your son, etc.)

    There isn't any one right answer, but you might be better off to sleep on it and see how things look in the morning...
  3. Jena

    Jena New Member


    this is a hard one........ i'd have to say that for me I would not call the cops unless it was something that had happened before. I would not be satisfied with the school telling me they will not share the consequences of this other boys actions with me. I'd tell them it has to be shared with me so that in turn can explain to my son first of all calling ppl names is not acceptable look at what it has lead to, secondly violence is never an option and this boy has paid the price by such and such.

    I would also think that your son and the others should have some minimal consequence also by the school (even though he got hurt) detention maybe for bullying. Than this other child should be suspended for what he did. out of school suspension.

    Things can get hairy with more than one difficult child boy in the room and teasing begins thats why i think they all need to understand very clearly the consequences of their actions.

    if it happened again i would def. call though.

    i'm not sure if that helped yet that is exactly what i would do if he were my own.

    good luck either way. never easy trying to figure it out huh..?? sleeping on it is a great suggestion. yet i would want a meeting in the a.m. with the principal to define what will occur to this other boy. than i think id' have them pull both kids in the room. i dont think it's healthy to consequence without these boys (being little men) not having the chance to lick their wounds than say a few words to eachother. that could make for more future drama.

    welcome by the way!! :)
  4. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    First of all your new screen name has me stumped as to who you really are. Can you pm me it? obviously I cannot put 2 and 2 together very well here.:)

    No, I would not call the cops or press charges. I think that is one blessing that raising a difficult child gives us. Insight. I am so non judgmental now - towards all. This kid could be like ours, yet lacking the parents to get him help. I do not think calling the cops is gonna change anything. If you want to do anything go talk to the parents one on one in an approachable way - and try to help them with their son. You know more than the police. More than anything I wish a parent had done this with me.
  5. toughlovin

    toughlovin Guest

    I think a lot depends on what the cops are like in your area. If there is a school resource officer who is good i would call him. If you dont trust the cops then that is a different story. I think charging this other kid and going to court opens up a whole can of worms, on the other hand having the police talk to the other parents and kid so they know how serious this is might be a good thing.
  6. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    I wouldn't call the cops, either, but I'd be on the principal like white on rice until I had his assurance that the consequences were given out and my kid was safe at school. Unfortunately, with difficult children, there's no definite way to know exactly what happened before the other kid got physical.
  7. pepperidge

    pepperidge New Member

    Technically the school cannot tell you what the consequences are for the other kid because that would be a violation of educational privacy and they could get in big trouble for that.

    What concerns me in this is that the other kid could have killed your kid. LIterally. Or given him a brain injury from lack of oxygen. It was like he hit him (not that that would be good), but choking sounds from what you said very serious indeed. Especially if it has happened before.

    One thing is to see if your school has a school resource officer (cop). You could go in and talk to him and kind of see what his take is on it. I am sympathethic to not filing a complaint on the on hand, but this is pretty serious and the school has a big safety issue on its hands.
  8. seriously

    seriously New Member

    Thanks everyone. You all pretty much covered everything that's gone through my head in the past 7 hours.

    I am sleeping on it and will talk with the principal in the morning. My guess is that there will be serious consequences for this kid but it's a little fuzzy since it was on school grounds but after school hours.

    I am concerned about retaliation at school - both directions. My difficult child is NOT level-headed ... talk about an oxymoron, a level-headed difficult child... and the school Special Education person sitting there telling him it's dangerous was not reassuring.

    Just what I needed right now. Of course. I'm supposed to have several pieces ready for a gallery to hang for a show starting this weekend. I have to have them to the gallery tomorrow night and the past several days have been one interruption and delay after another. I was at the framers getting some mats cut when they called me to come to school. I do not like looking like a flake but there is no way I am going to be able to deal with this tomorrow and still get all the framing done by tomorrow night.

    Is there a smiley that's pulling her hair out?? If not, we need one of those.

    I have decided that I am inclined to call the police. It is not an option for difficult child to change schools. I only convinced the stupid school district to place him in the ED class there 6 weeks ago. And he's doing great. He stayed after school today for the first time in years because he finally has a friend!!!

    My son says he's seen this kid choke someone before - just not to the point that they passed out like he did.

    You are right pepperidge - my son could have been seriously injured. My gut reaction when my son told me he had been choked to unconsciousness? "Have you called an ambulance?" I am not willing to find out the hard way that he will do it again to my kid - or to anyone else's.

    I realize the school people didn't seem to be too excited but when we got to ER and told them he had been choked to the point of unconsciousness we were sent to the head of the line. Fastest ER trip I have ever had with that kid. We were only there for 90 minutes. They took him back, checked him out, observed him for a little while and then sent us home with lots of warnings. Including one to him not to do this to get high - which earned them a look of disgust and a "why would anyone do something that stupid??" comment from difficult child 2.

    But the biggest reason from my perspective to call the cops on this kid? Because our juvenile justice program is turning itself inside out to help kids instead of just incarcerate them. There are multiple diversion programs including the one we just started. Clearly this kid needs help. If an adult had done this - we would not even be discussing whether to call the cops. These are high school kids - kids yes but spitting distance to being adults.

    We could not get the kind of help we need until we were in the juvenile justice system here. Maybe this other family is the same and will benefit from intervention. I don't know that but between my knowledge about the system here and the fact that I really do not want this kid walking around choking people I am coming down on the side of calling the cops.

    I'll see what happens in the morning. I understand privacy but I don't think it's a violation of privacy if I ask the principal if the other kid is at school and if so what she plans to do to make sure there is no retaliation or further violence if my kid comes to school too.
  9. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Seriously, I differ from the previous comments because Cory had the cops called on him for simply shoving a boy after he was relentless teased in a math class. I thought that was idiotic but we did have to go to court.
    Now when Billy was in middle school, he was a total geek who stood out like a sore thumb. He loved reading old novels like War and Peace and carrying around huge literary books. However, he was also academically gifted but learning disabled. He was the one who wore those big clunky black glasses and his shoes were always untied. Now I know he was so obviously Aspie but I hadnt even heard the word back then. His Learning Disability (LD) teachers in middle school wanted to argue with me that someone could be both gifted and Learning Disability (LD) Sigh. But he was also so not physically adept so PE was horrid for him. There were kids who tortured him from the beginning of school. Within the first month or so, he came home with his glasses broke 2 times and beat up. One time they cracked his cheek bone. I was livid. I went to the school and they wouldnt tell me who did it or what they were going to do about it. They actually told me Billy needed to learn to defend himself! I said the only way he could defend himself was if he brought a 22 to school because the boy simply didnt know how to fight and he still cant. He doesnt cuss to this day. He says things like oh dang it

    I wish I could have called the cops on those boys. They deserved it. I had to pay for two pairs of glasses because of them and Billy had to change schools and go live with my mother. That was absurd. All because a school couldnt keep one kid safe.
  10. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Personally, I wouldn't call the cops. All the boys in that room have culpability for mercilessly teasing this boy to the point he snapped. Doesn't make his physical reaction right, but he was not the only one wrong in this incident. What were the other boys doing while your son was being choked till he passed out? No call for help, no pulling the kid off your son? Everyone bears responsibility for this incident.

    Having given my parental opinion, as the mom of a 15 year old difficult child boy, I understand also how this can create a "can of worms" at school. If it were my difficult child, he would not want to be going to school this morning. However, perhaps this is a huge opportunity for a teaching lesson.

    I think the "choker" should be suspended for physical violence (and you and your son would know because he won't be at school) and the teasers should get detention for bullying. A symbol to all.

    I've very sorry that it got to this point for your son and I am glad that he is ok physically. I'm sure it was scary for him. Please don't feel my opinion regarding this matter means I don't have empathy for what he went through and how you feel.

  11. slsh

    slsh member since 1999

    Maybe I'm missing something here, but I'm stunned at the lack of immediate response by school staff to an assault that took place on school grounds (so much for zero tolerance), that your *son* had to call you to inform you of this incident, to say nothing of sped teacher's advice (are you *kidding* me??), and I'm a bit stumped at at the consensus not to call police. This is a teenager who choked your son to the point of unconsciousness. I don't care what the precipitating factor was. My goodness - this just sends chills down my spine. There could have very easily been a much worse outcome.

    It's one thing to understand gfgish behavior - it's quite another to give a kid a pass on an assault this serious.

    Call the police? You bet, in a heartbeat. Emergency mtg with- school to discuss their complete failure to keep your son safe, to appropriately supervise kids at a school function, and for review of school policy on zero tolerance? Yep. There's no way I would send my kid to a school where the best the staff can come up with- is to "avoid" the violent perpetrator. And if I didn't get satisfaction like today, I'd take this to superintendent and then on to state level.

    This is inexcusable. Absolutely inexcusable. Your son could have suffered permanent injury or worse.
  12. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    If this were me (and I differ also) I would be upset and mad too, but I'd also make my child have serious consequences for teasing a child who is obviously disturbed. My daughter goes to a school where there is a child who explodes because he is autistic. He is fine unless he is teased and the kids know it so sometimes they tease him on purpose. Instead of joining in, my daughter intercedes rather harshly in this boy's behalf, maybe because her brother is also on the spectrum. Kids can be mean and they know which child is vulnerable and sometimes they actually enjoy watching that child lash out. This does not excuse the other boy--this will be dealt with--but if it were my child who was a part of that, and he joined in, I would be furious at him too. My kids know that bullying is a grave consequence at our house.

    Would I call the cops? No. Behind closed doors, this boy is probably going to be dealt with very harshly. He may even get transferred to another school if he is dangerous. I know a lot of other parents will disagree with me, but I don't see how that would change anything.

    Violence is never the ansser, but as many of us know, sometimes certain vulnerable children can't really control themselves too well. Bullying is also not the answer. I guess I have a different view because I was mercilessly teased and assaulted at school, and the verbal abuse has stuck with me forever, not the physical abuse. To this day, I am still very shy and uncomfortable when meeting new people. I am 57.

    Both teasing and assaulting can and does often occur right in the middle of teachers and just as often they miss it. I don't know how. THIS should be dealt with VERY harshly. What were they doing? Twiddling their thumbs?

    Just my certainly unpopular opinion.
  13. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    I don't think I'd call the cops. However - I would report the incident to the BoE.

    Because if your son was unconscious, and it was a school function - during school hours or not - they should have called 911.

    Key word = unconscious.

    Since the sped and principal were reasonable... I'd let them know you were calling the BoE. Tell them it's for safety protocol. Clearly they do not have a plan in place, and all schools should have one... So it's to protect them, too. (AHEM.)

    Hugs to difficult child - and a HUGE lecture about teasing/bullying.
  14. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    When you took your son to the ER, did the staff there ask for the details including the name of the other kid? I would think ER would be a mandatory reporter of violence? You could ask a nurse at the ER what their policy is.

    I don't think I would call the cops either, however, I would be on the phone to the school counselor ASAP this morning. Take your son to school and visit with the counselor. Let your son tell his view of the other kid's obsession with chocking as a defense. I would also ask for heighted staff presence in the bathroom and lunch room when there is a chance for your child to be out and about. Your child can not be told to stay away from those "dangerous" areas, it is up to the school to make those areas safe even if it means a staff member's presence. Staff can go in to make sure the other kid is not there and then stand outside the door to make sure the other kid does not go in. Also heighten staff presence during phy-ed (if your school has a huge class size, one teacher can not keep track of all the kids, especially in the locker room) and recess. Ask for an adult to be specifically watching your kid (best if they could be specifically watching this other kid but not sure if they give you the right to request that). One locker room option is to have your child change quickly and leave the room. If a shower is expected, have your son go back at a designated time with less kids around. I did that when I was in Jr High because I could not handle the noise of the normal locker room activities (yes, it was a medical reason, not an intolerance). Locker rooms are the very most dangerous place in a school.

    Talk to the principal again to calmly ask what happened and why medical steps were not taken. I know it is really hard to do so, but try real hard to keep that conversation calm and on a "business" level. It seems to me that the principal may have been trying to communicate something before finally realizing that your full focus was on your son's medical needs. Once you mentioned ER, the principal was not going to interfere and keep you from going there.

    Keep us posted - I have a feeling that how you handle this and what comes about will help many others find the "right approach" and open our eyes to details/questions to learn about when we are in this need.
  15. Peace Please

    Peace Please New Member

    Ok, I have a question: Why didn't one of the school staff stop this child if he was physically hurting yours? Based upon your comments about the Special Education teacher, it sounds like there was at least one adult present. I don't believe the other kids' actions warrant a call to the police, but I would seriously question the student supervision in that school. I would also insist on knowing what the other child's punishment at school will be, but make sure that each of them knows the other's punishment. Your difficult child needs to know that the other kid is being punished and why and vice versa. I'm glad your difficult child is ok.
  16. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    The whole thing stinks - that's for sure.

    Had the school called the cops immediately, I probably would have counseled you not to press charges.

    School should have called 911. Paramedics should have responded to an unconscious student. A police report would have been made...

    Instead, the school decided to handle it themselves...and essentially ask you to "trust them" to do the right thing. But - since they didn't do the right thing at the can you trust that this will not happen again?

    If it were me? After having seen how lax and non-chalant the school was about this whole issue?
    I would call the cops. Period.
  17. seriously

    seriously New Member

    This is very interesting. I didn't expect it to turn into a lightening rod issue with such wide diversity of strong opinion.

    I am waiting for the principal to call me back. In the meantime I am investigating the school district's policies regarding assault on campus.

    It occurred to me that this other boy is probably Special Education because of the speech issue but as far as I know he is not an ED kid or he would be in my son's class - and I know the other kid is not in that class.

    So they are probably going to have to hold a manifestation hearing for the other kid due to the severity of the incident.

    I'll keep everyone posted.

    The fact that it was after school hours and that the kids were not in the area where the activity (kick ball) was happening makes the responsibility for supervising the kids pretty fuzzy. I wouldn't have expected a staff member to be supervising them. I would have expected them to call 911 however.

    So I am very interested in hearing from the principal why they didn't call 911 and how the staff learned of the incident.
  18. slsh

    slsh member since 1999

    I guess my question is, does it really matter if other kid is Special Education? I just do not think there is *ever* an instance when this kind of behavior should be excused. What if neither kid had special needs? Would opinions change? What if your son sustained a serious long-term (or fatal) injury - would opinions change then? He had enough oxygen deprivation to cause him to *pass out*!

    My son broke his teacher's arm years ago. I insisted that a police report be filed. Didn't matter a lick that he was Special Education, or was in a self-contained therapeutic school. In my little corner of the world, assault is assault.

    What is an appropriate in-school consequence for causing such harm?

    I don't know... We seem to advocate for logical consequences, especially for our teens. I don't see any logical consequences occurring for this young man, especially in light of the severity of his actions.
  19. seriously

    seriously New Member

    I didn't mean to imply there would be no consequences or that I do not take this incident very seriously. I'm a little puzzled by the principal's response and I would like her to explain things from her perspective, especially regarding the failure to call 911 and get medical help.

    I just anticipate that there may be some delay in the school determining the type and extent of the consequences for the other boy if he is Special Education because of the requirements that apply to disciplining Special Education students. If they suspend him until the hearing that is fine with me cause I am very concerned that this will turn into a grudge match with more violence.

  20. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Sue....I agree with you totally. Cory was handled the same way almost totally. If he sneezed, it was assault. I remember one time when he was in 4th grade he had broken his wrist and it was in a cast. He was in school a few days later and somehow he pulled the door open with his one hand that wasnt in the cast and being a hyper little boy, the casted hand somehow hit another little boy as they rushed out the big door. They called the cops on him for assault because he hurt the other boy by giving him a bloody nose. Now nothing really came of that but it started his file. The other boy wasnt really hurt so nothing was really done but the school really thought Cory did it on purpose. Other kids, and even the little boy himself, said he didnt. We did punish him though and worked hard with him on understanding how casts are