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Public-School-Negligence-300x262Black’s Law Dictionary defined Corporal Punishment as follows:

“Physical punishment as distinguished from pecuniary punishment or a fine; any kind of punishment of or inflicted on the body, such as whipping or the pillory; the term may or may not include imprisonment, according to the context.”

Many people think that corporal punishment is a thing of the past. An archaic or old-fashioned manner of punishment that was once common in the school system.  As an elementary school student of the 1970s, I recall classmates coming back from the principal’s office with a face that was red like a tomato and tears flowing out like there was no tomorrow.  It was clear that these classmates underwent the punishment of a paddling.  Many people would be surprised to know that corporal punishment in the form of paddling and other measures is still in place.

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Building-Blocks-300x271Day care centers should be safe havens. For most children, a typical day at a child care center involves some adventure, snacks, and, yes, that all important nap.  Unfortunately, and tragically for some toddlers, they do not return home at all following a visit to a child care center.  These children do not return home because they died due to the neglect of a day care center.  There is nothing worse for a parent than to bury a child. Nightmares turn into realities.  One such place that tragedies take place is the unlicensed day care center.  In most cases, the unlicensed day care center lacks any appreciable assets or liability insurance.  As such, while a legal action or lawsuit can be filed against the day care center, the collectability of a potential settlement or verdict is highly unlikely to improbable to impossible.  In other words, a strong legal case against a defendant does not mean that there is an economically viable defendant to collect from.

This past July an incident occurred within an unlicensed Tennessee daycare leaving twin babies died. The day care center operator was indicted on two counts of criminally negligent homicide in connection with the death of the two children. The parents of the children filed a wrongful death lawsuit last month seeking compensation of over 50 million dollars. While this seems like a substantial case and demand, a victory in court will most likely be a hollow one since any verdict will probably be uncollectible.  As a general statement, unlicensed day care centers are typically operated by people who cut corners and who do not follow rules.  Furthermore, unlicensed day care centers are usually operated by individuals who have little to no assets to collect upon when there is a sizable verdict against the facility.

Parents should check to see if a day care center is licensed and insured.  While these are not the only factors to consider, if the day care center lacks a license or insurance, it can be a red flag to stay away from that day care center and find one with both liability insurance and licensure in place.  When evaluating a potential case against a day care center, one of the first factors considered is the availabilty and amount of liability insurance.  While a day care center may be legally liable for damages related to personal injuries or death to a child, this does not mean that the day care center owner will ultimately be able to pay out a settlement or verdict rendered in favor of the injured child.

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Video-Surveillance-in-Child-CareIn day care centers across the nation, there are countless acts of abuse and neglect. Some get swept under the rug and never get reported. Children enrolled in a child care center often is an easy target because of age, the inability to defend himself or herself, and the lack of communication skills to alert parents and other adults of the abuse.  Being a child care provider is not easy task.  It requires a person who is alert, physically able, and patient.  Unfortunately, far too many day care centers are run or staffed with unqualified and downright abusive people.

There are plenty of excellent day care centers that do not have video surveillance. On the “wish list” of things to have in a day care center, it is at times helpful to have video surveillance in place.  There are a number of benefits to having video surveillance in place as follows:

Video surveillance is another “set of eyes” supervising the care provided to the children.

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Swimming-and-Drowing-Risks-300x244During the summer months, swimming is a wonderful activity for children.  It can also be a dangerous one. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning is listed as the top cause of death for children ages one to four years old.  For older children ranging in age from five to nineteen years old, drowning is listed as the third leading cause of death.

There are several precautions a parent can take to protect their children from drowning. Children near open bodies of water, like lakes or beaches, should wear life vests. However, of the almost one thousand child drownings each year, the majority of these occur in home backyard pools. First, there should always be a supervising adult near swimming children. Many parents and homeowners decide it is best to construct a fence around their pool in order to physically separate young children from the water, and studies show that “four-sided fencing with a locking gate… prevents more than half of swimming pool deaths in children.” The CDC recommends a fence at least four feet high. In the event of a child falling into a pool or other body of water, parents should take care to learn CPR.

One preventative measure which has garnered a bit of attention in the last few years is youth swimming lessons—starting as young as a year old. The reason for this early start is twofold—first, infants can drown in bodies of water much smaller than a swimming pool, like a bathtub or even a bucket of water, and, second, the lessons prepare young children in case they accidentally fall into a swimming pool. The Consumer Product Safety Commission says almost seventy percent of drowning victims under the age of five were not expected to be in the water. For this reason, youth swimming lessons are focused on familiarization with water, being able to breach the surface and tread water or looking for floatation devices. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends swim lessons for children between the years of one and four, and the USA Swimming Foundation reports that lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by almost ninety percent. Parents should make sure that, when enrolling their children in a swimming course, the teachers are properly trained and that there are lifeguards on duty.

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Campground-300x239Parents enroll children in the Boy Scouts to learn life lessons.  For most scout members, activities are filled with fun and meaningful times. At times, scouts are subject to abuse and neglect by the very adults / scout masters who are supposed to supervise and protect the scouts.

While the Boy Scouts of America is intended to foster the growth and development of your child there is always the possibility that injuries are sustained. Just recently in Nassau County Florida, there was a case wherein a scout master was arrested for assaulting one of the children in the program. After the mother reached out to the BSA, the BSA released a statement denouncing the scout master’s actions and assuring the public that due to their mandatory reporting policy, their children’s safety remained a priority of the organization. So, what happens in the case of your child being injured during a Boy Scouts of America event? The BSA provides comprehensive general liability insurance for cases where a child may be injured. This provides coverage to scouts in any case involving negligent actions of a third party resulting in personal injury or property damage. The BSA also offers coverage for accidents and sickness, offering medical reimbursement I case of death, accident, or sickness within the policy’s amounts (www.scouting.org/health-and-safety).

As mentioned earlier, the BSA has a mandatory reporting policy, but what are the resources offered in order to handle serious cases. On their website, the BSA offers reports for both incidents and near miss situations. The BSA asks that these reports are completed immediately after the occurrence of the incident in order to get as many facts down as possible. Risk management bases these policies off of the facts provided in the initial incident report, so they stress the importance of including evidence and details of what took place. While this may not prevent every scenario, the BSA attempts to expand its safety policies in accordance to the reports they receive.

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Summer is filed with fun and play for children. For some, the bounce house is a great place for children to exercise, move around, and socialize with friends.  The bounce house can also the scene of a serious injury especially for small children and toddlers.  Just because a bounce house is padded and filled with air does not mean that a bounce house is a safe place.

Bounce house play can be a fun time for your children this summer, but repeatedly jumping up and coming down in various ways come with inherent risks. While it is difficult to completely ensure your child’s safety within a bounce house without being over-protective, measures can be taken to minimize safety risks. When buying or renting a bounce house to use for a children’s event check to make sure that the selected bounce house is equipped with safety nets and is set up as instructed by the manufacturer. This includes remembering to securely fashion the bounce house to the ground in order to account for sudden gusts of wind that may topple over the house. While most injuries suffered within bounce houses are not severe, if wind knocks the house airborne with children inside of it, the chance of serious injury skyrockets. Though it may be hard to regulate, keeping the number of children within the bounce house below its maximum capacity further minimizes risk of injury to your child.

Dr. David Foley, medical director of an urgent care centers, states that summer is the season that sees the most “slip, trip, or fall’ injuries. He goes on to state that risk of injury is inevitable in bounce houses due to promoting jumping and falling in different ways. The risk is even greater in these cases as the bounce houses allow for falls from even greater heights, generating more momentum and force as they fall back to ground which can lead to more serious injury. When setting up a bounce house outdoors, check weather reports for rain as a slippery bounce house can be a recipe for disaster, adding more risk to an already dangerous activity. According to doctor Foley the most common injuries that occur within bounce houses are to the limbs. These types of injuries include but are not limited to, twisted ankles, fractured elbows, and in the most serious of cases, head trauma. For events in which parents plan to use a bounce house, assigning supervisors to keep watch over what’s happening within the bounce house can prevent injuries that are results of negligence. See Bounce House Play – Keeping Children Safe.

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Parts-of-the-Eye-300x163Children, especially toddlers and infants, lack safety awareness. Because of this, it is important to provide close supervision of children and take reasonable steps to remove dangerous objects away from the reach of children.  For some children in schools, summer camps, day care centers, and other locations, a moment of inattention combined with a moment of danger can lead to serious and permanent eye injuries.

Summer camps, day cares, and schools contain many  items that could potentially injure your child’s eyes. When at play, children may come across potential hazards such as projectile toys and fake guns such as bb or pellet guns. Reminders to be cautious around these toys can prevent carelessness that may lead to eye injury. In sports involving small moving objects such as balls, pucks, or shuttlecocks, protective eyewear can protect your child’s during play. Be sure to only use protective eyewear that is ASTM F803 approved as the wrong pair of glasses may be more harm than good in the case of an eye injury. Certain items such as laser pointers, especially green laser pointers with shorter wavelengths, can permanently injure a child’s eyesight in a moment’s notice and should remain out of their reach. It is also important to be watchful around the house this summer as many common household items can cause serious eye injury in the hands of an unsupervised child. Paper clips, wire coat hangers, bungee cords, and rubber bands amongst others are examples of items that should be stowed away out of reach of children around the house. Chemicals and cleaners such as bleach should also be in secure spots out of reach to avoid an accidental spill that may end up in the eyes. Whenever performing yardwork, be sure to keep your child away from any flying debris involved (i.e. mowing the lawn). Even when gardening, it is wise to keep children far from and fertilizers or pesticides as they can cause severe damage if dropped into the eyes. Be wary when cooking as the kitchen also holds many an item that can cause injury to the eyes. Certain kitchen utensils such as knives should be kept in child-proof locations and shouldn’t be put down unsupervised. When cooking using hot oils, a grease shield can prevent any splashes from hitting your child in the eyes.

In the event of any eye irritation, a child care provider will need to be cautious in cleaning out their child’s eyes. Before cleaning out the child’s eyes, washing hands can prevent further irritation during the cleaning process. Avoid touching, rubbing, or pressing on the eye itself as the contact can increase irritation to the eyes. According to KidsHealth.org, flushing a child’s eyes with warm water for up to 15 minutes is a good way to try and remove any foreign bodies causing the irritation. If the foreign body still remains after 15 minutes, medical attention may be needed for its removal. Cautious preparation along with quick responses in the event of an incident may be the difference between the child suffering an eye injury so be sure to keep safety in mind throughout your fun summer activities this year!

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Pool-Safety-240x300With a mobile phone or tablet in our hands most of the day, we now live in a world of almost endless distractions. While technology is wonderful and helpful, it also makes certain activities a bit more dangerous for children.  Whenever a child is in or near water, there is a danger or risk of drowning. Adult supervision is key to the safety of children; however, the presence of an adult in the water area is a bit different than the attention of an adult.  If the adult is physically present in the area of the pool or beach, the physical presence may not mean much if the adult is otherwise engaged in the latest text, tweet, or e-mail on the phone or tablet.  Because of this, it is important to have as top of mind awareness the safety needs of the children.

Nearly 7 out of 10 drownings occur while an adult is present. In a life and death situation, people need to be alert and aware of their surroundings. However, the pool presents a myriad of distractions; if a person is swimming in the pool, they can be surrounded by splashing and other people, which could take their attention away from the child they are supposed to be watching. And, even if the watcher is out of the pool, they could be reading a book or looking at their phone at the precise moment they need to step into action and prevent a drowning. But drownings are almost always preventable; in fact, it is the leading preventable cause of death for children under the age of 5. So what steps must one take in order to prevent a child from drowning?

Among the most important preventions one can take is to have a Designated Watcher whose sole purpose is to keep an eye on the people in the pool. These people are reminded to not look at their phones or other distractions and not leave the pool area unless another person replaces them. While a Watcher is the best preventative measure, there are other choices one can make to improve pool safety. Installing a gate around the pool would keep small children from running into the water and drowning before an adult can intervene. It also helps to have a number of flotation devices, like pool noodles or kickboards, that can be thrown into the pool for a child to grab onto. If these measures are implemented, children will be markedly more safe in the pool this summer.

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book-abcIn communities throughout the United States, trampoline park businesses are springing up.  What seems like a safe, indoor activity can actually be quite a hazard to young children.  What makes things worse is that many of these businesses require a release to be signed by parents and guardians for children.  Some of the releases are valid; some are not. It depends on the language of the release, circumstances of the incident, and the laws of the state where the trampoline park is located.

In 2017, almost 18,000 people went to the emergency room due to injuries obtained at a trampoline park. The bulk of these injuries are explained by one thing—an unsafe transfer of energy. All the trampolines are connected, so the energy created from bouncing transfers through all the trampolines. When a child bounces, they can be launched higher than anticipated and land back on a surface which could be at a different height than anticipated. This transfer of energy can result in nearly 1,000 pounds of pressure, which can break any bone in a person’s body. There have been at least 6 deaths at trampoline parks since 2012.

Trampoline parks in the United States currently have no federal oversight, so every park is unique. While the majority of the businesses have patrons sign a release waiver, they can be different from park to park. These waivers typically address risks that are inherent to trampoline activities, like a sprained ankle. However, some parks do not even require a waiver. However, just signing a waiver does not always effectively preclude a parent from filing a lawsuit on behalf of the injured child for the personal injuries.  In the State of Florida, there exceptions for waivers signed by minors. For minors, those documents may be limited to non-commercial situations, such as charity or school events. Because trampoline parks are for-profit businesses, the waivers provided by them may not be enforceable.  If you or your child are injured at a trampoline park, contact an injury attorney for consultation or representation.

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Dresser-Tipping-Danger-191x300There is a common danger in homes, day care centers, and schools.  What would often appear as a safe environment really is not.  The danger presents itself in the form of unanchored furniture.  This danger can lead to serious personal injuries and even the death of a child. When furniture is manufactured and distributed, there should be an expectation on the part of the manufacturers, distributors, and retail stores that this very items will be placed in homes, day care centers, and schools where children may be present. As such, it is important that the furniture if manufactured in a way that makes the furniture safe and steady rather than a hazard in which a terrible tragedy could happen on any given day.

It has been reported by Consumer Product Safety Commission that over 300,000 furniture chests were recalled after a child was killed by an unanchored chest. It is reported that as many as 70 children every day are injured by fallen furniture and, every two weeks, fallen furniture results in the death of one child. Chests, desks, and cabinets can tip over if a child climbs on it and the piece is not secured or made properly. However, it’s not just climbing that can result in danger. In some cases, a piece of furniture can fall over if too many drawers are open.

The responsibility falls upon the manufacturer of the furniture to ensure that, even if unanchored, their pieces do not actively pose a danger to children. Some articles of furniture come pre-weighted so that consumers do not have to weight it to make it more safe. There is also a responsibility that on the part of the distributors and retail stores, like Target and Walmart. If distributors and retailers are aware of any past injustices or injuries caused by a certain manufacturer’s furniture, they should refrain from distributing them. The ultimate responsibility belongs to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, or CPSC. They decide what products get recalled and when. If unweighted furniture seriously injures or kills one child, the CPSC should take action as quickly as possible to get it out of people’s homes.