SACRAMENTO, Calif., Oct. 16, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- It's hard for anyone with a heart to ignore the news that two Florida girls, ages 12 and 14, allegedly bullied their 12-year-old classmate to suicide. While evil abounds in this world, it is particularly distressing to witness the effects of childhood bullying. Such cruelty invites our response as a society and as individuals in that society – but what should our response be?
In California it is a crime for parents to fail to "exercise reasonable care, supervision, protection, and control" over their children. State law also provides statutory civil liability of $25,000 against a parent or guardian of a minor that committed willful misconduct resulting in injury or death to another person. While this statute is a necessary step, it doesn't complete the picture of parental liability.
California law states that a parent may be liable for an injury or death caused by the child where:
Parental negligence made it possible for the child to cause the injury complained of, and probable that the child would do so.
Evidence of parental knowledge can be direct, such as testimony of a witness who heard the parent mention their child's bullying, or it can be proven by indirect or circumstantial evidence.
Damages for the wrongful death of a child neither fix nor remove grievous loss – something too painful to contemplate. Yet the law provides for compensation of losses that are otherwise immeasurable – the loss of love, companionship, affection, care, assistance, protection, and moral support.
Criminal and civil liability for parental negligence provide some legal pressure for parents to police their children. The greater pressure, of course, is the moral imperative to educate and guide children in the ways of fairness and justice. Meanwhile, parents of bullied children do have tools to help stop the bullying or – in the aftermath of tragedy– to seek justice against parents or guardians who fail to "exercise reasonable care, supervision, protection and control" over their own children.
About Hackard Law, a Professional Law Corporation Hackard Law focuses on litigation matters. Michael A. Hackard is the principal attorney of the Sacramento-area law firm representing trustees, beneficiaries and heirs in estate, probate and trust litigation. For information about Michael A. Hackard, please visit:
Michael A. Hackard, Hackard Law
10630 Mather Blvd.
Mather, Sacramento County, CA 95655
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