In loco parentis

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In loco parentis is a legal term that some find confusing. We will examine the definition of in loco parentis, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

In loco parentis is a Latin term that translates as “in the place of a parent”. In loco parentis describes an adult functioning in the capacity of a parent to a minor. The concept of in loco parentis primarily applies to a guardian who is acting in the best interest of a child, or a school or academic institution that is acting in the best interest of the child. The concept of in loco parentis does not extend to any actions that would violate the civil liberties of a child. For instance, a school can not force a child to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in the United States as it violates his right to freedom of speech. However, that same child may be compelled to behave in class without disruption, as the right of freedom of speech does not extend to all circumstances. The term in loco parentis first came into use in the 1600s.


In loco parentis has been widely publicized through recent State Attorney’s Office investigations involving teacher misconduct, a number of those involving special needs students. (The Northwest Florida Daily News)

But overall, universities “are not responsible for monitoring and controlling all aspects of their students’ lives,” the court wrote, and there is “universal recognition” that the age of “in loco parentis,” in which universities stand in place of parents, is long over. (The New York Times)

Indeed, as my colleague Gabriel Sherman has reported, Trump long ago grew frustrated with his “Church Lady” chief of staff, John Kelly, acting in loco parentis.(The New York Times)