The call surprised Carlos Amezquita on the Mudejar highway, on the way to Teruel: “Saray jump!” shouted his wife. With difficulty, the man was able to understand that his 10-year-old daughter had thrown herself from the balcony of the house, on the third floor. He turned around and took the delivery van back to Zaragoza. I was trembling. “It was the worst half hour of my life,” she says from the hallway of Miguel Servet Hospital, where Sarai is recovering from a fall that could have killed her but only broke her hip and injured her left ankle. Amesquita arrived in time to see the ambulance take her away and, when she got home, to find that her daughter had attempted suicide, the victim of bullying and, according to her parents, the passivity of those who were supposed to protect her.
Sarah left a short farewell note, decorated with drawings, in which she apologized to her parents and older brother and wished them a long life. He sent guasap to his grandmother, who lives in Colombia, and at 2:00 pm on Friday, September 9, while his mother was buying lemons from the neighborhood greengrocer, he climbed the railing and jumped. It was the second day of the new school year, long enough for the girl to harbor the suspicion that the nightmare wasn’t over. In her hospital room, Sarai told the police and psychologists who interviewed her that during the break the girls who bullied her last year came back looking for her. They called him a “dirty rat.”
Sarai’s decision to throw herself on the asphalt broke her parents Carlos and Katya. They thought that summer was the end point of the story. The girl would repeat the 4th grade of elementary school and would no longer match the bullies much. Besides, the holidays had brought her happiness back. “As if by magic, she was back to the same girl she was in Barranquilla, happy and talkative. We couldn’t think that with two days of school everything would change,” says the father, a 40-year-old businessman who was a victim of extortion in Colombia and who entered Spain in the summer of 2021 to apply for asylum . A few months later, Katya, who works in a nursing home, and her two children – a 12-year-old boy and Sarai – arrive. Since there were no places in the public school, the government of Aragon assigned them one in the Agustin Guerrico joint school.
The brothers began classes at this private, Catholic, bilingual school in the San Jose neighborhood in January. He found friends and immediately settled down; she had more difficulty. “We noticed that she was sad and thought it was because of the change of country. In Colombia, he left behind his grandmother and two puppies that he loved very much.” But there was something else. They tactfully invited her to speak. And Sarai admitted: “There are some girls who bother me.” S bullyingAny excuse is fine. The victim may be due to wearing braces or glasses, overweight, too short… Or, as in Sarai’s case, too tall because her development was premature.
The mother met at school with one of her teachers, who assured her that the insults would not be repeated. It was the first of a series of notices the family sent to the school over the following months. The center did not activate the protocol against school violence, even when verbal attacks allegedly escalated into racism (“Colombian bitch”, “sudaca”). Sarai “came home crying” and “refused to go to school,” prompting the teacher to intervene. The family has the audio messages sent by this professional that reveal Numantine’s reluctance to admit a case of bullying at the center and trying to deal with the case as if it were just a matter of envy between friends: childish things.
“Trust me, I’ll fix it”
The teacher admits in one of the messages that Sarai was assaulted, but puts it in the context of the likes and dislikes of the classroom. “It was an attack for which there was no reason. You must have been a little jealous. That’s just the way it is. Is not bullying neither Bulan (yes) don’t worry. I will talk with her [la presunta agresora] because if I tell his parents what he did, he will be hit hard,” he says. The educator encourages the mother to tell her about these episodes (“it is forbidden to keep silent, a bad child should not come to school”), but insists that she leave the matter in her hands. “Trust me, I’ll fix it. Here bullying It has not been seen and will not be seen”.
The school had responded well to the mid-term arrival of Sarai and her brother. They had lent them books and helped them adjust. The teacher in particular had endeared herself to the family. So when she offered to settle the matter, they believed her. “We believed they would do something, but she always played it down. how could it not be so bullying when the victim is always the same?” asks Carlos, who this week, despite continuing his daily trips between Zaragoza and Teruel, is “gobsmacked” when he sees his daughter walking again.
When one of the girls accused her of being mean, Sarai lost her temper and fought with her. Then the parents tried to contact the principal. It was in vain. “I didn’t have dates, I wasn’t there… So my wife went to talk to the girls and managed to get them to apologize to Sarai,” adds Carlos. But the violence continued in small doses: a few gloves that looked wet, a book that disappeared… The event that left the girl touched came a few days before the end of the course. In the courtyard, the attackers grabbed her by the neck, bent her head down and assaulted her, the family said. The teacher “apologized in a thousand ways,” Carlos says, and promised to act. But nothing moved and summer came.
After the suicide attempt, the Agustín Gericó school regretted what had happened, “thanked God that the girl was out of danger” and stated that it received “special attention” from the teachers for “her better integration”. At no point does he mention the alleged harassment of the girl, which remains a taboo for the school. The center said it would open “necessary records as appropriate” and made itself available to investigators. EL PAÍS tried to speak with the center’s management, but without success.
The alleged passivity of the agreed center earned the rebuke of the Minister of Education of Aragon, Felipe Facci. “We will investigate what happened and why the protocol was not opened. You don’t have to wait for security to do it. When a student feels bullied, you have to act,” said Facchi, who offered his support to the family. On the Monday following the events, Education had already called on the school to open its protocols against bullying and suicidal ideation.
Added to the administrative investigation is that of the police, who questioned Sarai and analyzed her cell phone for signs of cyberbullying. The agents will forward their findings to the Juvenile Prosecutor’s Office, who will likely prosecute the case, since it involves minors under 14 and therefore not liable. When that is absorbed, the family’s attorney, Miguel Lasnada, plans to pursue criminal and civil action for the school’s negligent action.
Sarai will change schools. Carlos points out the injustice that “the victim, not the perpetrator” has to move, but thinks it’s better that way. With the pending lawsuits, the older brother will be leaving as well. “It got to a point where it would be very difficult to continue there.” The first thing, he says, is to get a medical release and have a calm conversation with the girl at home. “I refer to what happened as ‘the fall he had’ or ‘since the fall’… We haven’t talked openly about the suicide attempt yet. But I believe her. When she’s ready, she’ll talk to me.”
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