If you knew a child would be injured (not by a person or animal or medical treatment) if they did something and you insisted (without physical threats, just legal action against them if they did not do what would cause them injury) on the child doing the thing that would cause the injury, which laws, if any, would you be breaking?

For example, if a child is compelled by compulsory education to attend school in classroom where a teacher attested to the fact that she saw the child eat lead paint chips that fell from the ceiling, which laws, if any, would would be violated? PBS

  • What kind of legal action can a private citizen take against a child? Or do you mean government compelling the child by threatening arrest, as implied by the current answer?
    – Damila
    Jan 3, 2020 at 1:16
  • 3
    Yes, you need more explanation. E.g. "I will sue you if you don't jump off this bridge"? An empty threat. Is this about a parental threat? A teacher threat? A police officer threat? What is the proposed legal action?
    – user6726
    Jan 3, 2020 at 1:20
  • @user6726 I updated my question. Jan 3, 2020 at 1:43
  • 1
    In your example, the school would be liable for providing a dangerous classroom, but the state wouldn’t be liable for the requirement to get an education.
    – user28517
    Jan 3, 2020 at 1:59
  • @Moo thanks for pointing that out, but I was asking about which laws would be violated. Jan 3, 2020 at 2:09

2 Answers 2


There are EPA regulations that relate to led in paint, see here. However, they fall into 3 categories: lead disclosure rules for buyers and renters of residential property, danger standards for residences, and training requirements for lead abatement and repair for child-occupied facilities. If this is an old school building and they haven't been scraping the paint, there is no violation of the law. In order for there to be a violation of the law, somebody had to do something to the pain, which violated the rules. §745.235 says that failure to comply is prohibited. There are very many things one is supposed to comply with (not having accredited trained workers and supervisors; improper certification; improper screening of materials being abated; and there are some specifics of abatement that are addressed, such as you cannot burn lead-based pain, you can't sand it off).

State laws may provide an alternative angle, via a negligence lawsuit. California has a special law, the Lead-Safe Schools Protection Act of 1992, which requires elementary schools and similar facilities to be "surveyed" to identify lead danger, and then notify parents. It is not clear whether one is likely to prevail in a negligence suit if a school does not renovate to remove the lead paint hazard, but one would have to show evidence of actual lead poisoning. As far as I know, no state requires schools to definitively abate lead paint in schools. However, I can imagine circumstances where the danger is egregious (the building is in serious need of repainting), and the school has simply neglected the health risk.


State-Created Danger Doctrine

The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, as interpreted by SCOTUS, guarantees what are known as “negative liberties.” Which is to say the government can’t deprive someone of basic rights. It also means that the government has no “affirmative” duty to protect citizens from harm, according to the Network for Public Health Law.

Because of the long period of time in which the school board knowingly and willingly exposed children to lead the case could be made that the "equivalent to private acts of violence" has occurred. law.com

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