Can a teacher physically grab a student by the arm?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right legal decisions.

We strive to help you make confident insurance and legal decisions. Finding trusted and reliable insurance quotes and legal advice should be easy. This doesn’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own.

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022Fact Checked

Get Legal Help Today

Compare Quotes From Top Companies and Save

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Can a teacher physically grab a student by the arm?

My 8 year old son came home from school and said that during his lunch time, he and a friend were discussing a car accident in which a young lady had passed away. My son asked if the lady had blond hair. The friend, as it turned out, was a cousin of the lady who passed and our cousin was the one who found her. My son was about to give his condolences when the lunchroom teacher came over and grabbed him by the arm and dragged him to the side of the room and yelled at him, making him cry. Is it legal for them to do that and what if anything should we do about it? We have already contacted the school to no avail.

Asked on February 10, 2017 under Personal Injury, Nebraska


B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Most school districts and teachers these days live behind the protection of "governmental immunity."  This basically prevents parents from seeking any kind of monetary retribution in a civil case from a teacher or other adminstration.  There have been cases of teachers actuallying causing death and serious bodily injury to students which have been thrown out of the civil courts.  (Ironically, with these incidents rising, public schools wonder why parents are flocking to alternative educational programs).
So... the principal was correct in the general civil sense.  However, this does not stop the inquiry. (It just stops it in their mind).  You still need to contact the local school board and seek to be heard through their administrative processes and request discipline or other action against the teacher.  This is what is called an "administrative" remedy.  You won't get any funds for counseling for your son, (assuming that he needed it), but at least it is a way to request some correction of the problem.  You should file a similar complaint with the state teacher's association. 
Your other option is to seek criminal charges.  Contact your local prosecuting office, the local law enforcement, and/or the state child protection agency to investigate criminal charges of "injury to a child."  If she grabbed his arm and drug him, then he likely experienced pain at some point.... and he certainly suffered some type of emotional harm just for trying offer sympathy.  Teacher and school administrators do not have criminal immunity... which they often forget when they are bullying parents into "just forgetting about things."  Injuring a child on purpose is not okay.... they would hold any parent or child who engaged in harmful conduct accountable.  The criminal justice system can seek similar accountability from the teacher.  If you live in a smaller, rural area where the prosecutor enables injuries to children, then simply call the media and have them assist in your inquiries on why they feel it's okay for teachers to injury children. 

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption