There was a time when fighting in school was brushed off. Kids got into a fist fight, they shook each other’s hands and perhaps they were suspended from school for a few days. But today, fighting and bullying are taken much more seriously.
Some parents are so concerned about their children fighting that they file lawsuits.
Ramifications of Fighting
Fights can end with little action taken, or they can result in assault and battery charges. In some states, even a simple assault can result in a $1,000 fine and up to 90 days in jail. If a child suffers significant injuries, a felony offense may be handed down with fines of $10,000+ and jail terms up to 20 years.
Punishment will depend on the severity of the injuries sustained and whether any weapons were involved.
If a fight leads to one party being stabbed or beaten with a foreign object, this may be seen as assault and battery.
While many fights will end without any form of legal action taken, there are plenty of fights that end in long legal battles.
Parents should try to curtail fighting, limiting their risks as a parent and also limiting the risks for their children.
Tools Parents Can Employ to Limit Fighting
Children, especially teens, can be very difficult for parents to deal with. Parents have several tools to help put an end to fighting, and this may include:
- Express your concerns in a non-threatening manner. As a teen, life is confusing, and it’s easy to feel trapped or betrayed by your parents. You should be direct with your child, expressing your concerns and asking what happened in school. The goal is to determine the root cause of the problem and correct it.
- Listen to your child’s point of view. Your teen will have a different story than the opposing teen. Perhaps your teen felt bullied, or it’s also possible that the entire story hasn’t been told. You’ll want to sit down, keeping an open mind, and listen to your child’s point of view and description of what happened.
Listening can only go so far in correcting the problem, but it’s a way to open up a line of communication with your child and hopefully help put an end to the fighting.
As a parent, you also have to consider that your child may have been the instigator or is a bully. No one wants to view their child in a negative light, but it’s your responsibility to correct this negative behavior.
You can start by:
- Punishing your child
- Explaining that the behavior is unacceptable
- Explaining the ramifications of their actions
There should be consequences for your child’s actions, and this may mean not being able to go out, play a sport or go to prom. While punishment may seem harsh, it’s very important that your child understand that all of their actions do have consequences.
And fighting is definitely not acceptable, but fighting is also different if a child is only trying to protect themselves. If a child is defending themselves, you may want to nix the punishment and discuss the issue with the school.