My 12 year old son was hurt by another student at school. Can any charges be pressed?

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My 12 year old son was hurt by another student at school. Can any charges be pressed?

A little girl kicked my son in the genitals during inside recess at school. The
principal is giving him the same punishment as the little girl since they both
kicked each other in the shin during this altercation as well. The reason for
her kicking him to begin with was because he took her pencil. I agree he should
be punished for kicking her shin, but she violated his private area. The
principal admitted that had the tables been reversed, my son would be punished
much worse than the little girl is being punished.

Asked on April 19, 2018 under Personal Injury, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

You can try to press charges with the police, if the girl kicked him first (not if he struck first and she was fighting back): the fact that the school is not taking action does not take away your rights to go to the police. It is possible that the authorities (e.g. the prosecutor, who makes the final decision as to what to prosecute) may not decide to press charges (the prosecutor, not the victim of the crime, decides when to bring charges, for what), since this is an altercation between elementary-school age children over a pencil, with apparently no real harm done (note: the law does not consider a "private area" more important than a shin, when it comes to being hit or assaulted: assault is assault, and hitting somone in face, stomach, groin, etc. is all the same); the authorities have the discretion or right to not prosecute if they feel the matter does not warrant it. However, while you can't control what the authorities will do, you do have the right to go to them, file a report, and ask about pressing charges.
I would suggest not doing so, based on personal experience. My then-16 year old daughter was assaulted by another girl, who hit her with *no* provocation whatsoever with a snow shovel and concussed her. We filed a report, charges were pressed--but the judge then refused to impose any punishment on the attacker, despite concluding that she did hit my daughter with a shovel. The trial was traumatic for my daughter, who was made to feel like she had somehow done something wrong in somehow inviting an attack. My experience is that family/juvenile court is focused on not ruining the attacker's life with criminal punishment at an early age, and looks after the attacker more than the victim. If you son did not suffer permanent injury, it is difficult to believe that the authorities or court will take the matter seriously and punish the attacker--but in the meantime, if you try to press charges, it can be very stressful for you and your son.


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