“The day before my daughter took her own life, she told me she wanted to tell me something. I asked her what was wrong and she replied:The usual, Dad. Then he hugged me, told me that he loved me very much and that he was the best father in the world. He was saying goodbye,” he says in a broken voice. Jose Manuel LopezKira’s father, in an interview with EL ESPAÑOL, the same week that bullying has been present a lot A 10-year-old girl attempted suicide in Zaragoza due to bullying.
The next morning, Kira threw herself down the stairs of her apartment block. I was 15 years old.
As of this May 19, 2021, Jose Manuel, who wants to promote a law against bullying, has never been the same. Every day the same question goes through his head. «What would you like to tell me? There were sequences where he was fine, or seemed fine, until one day he decided to kill himself, and then the first thing you feel is an overwhelming sense of guilt:What did we do wrong?’«.
Kyra Lopez was a victim of bullying. When he was five years old, the first signs that he was began to appear is physically abused.Physical abuse that transformed after she entered elementary school into psychological bullying that “ultimately destroyed her,” says Jose Manuel. “It will haunt me for the rest of my life that I didn’t make the decision to change her school,” he says.
Weeks after Kira’s death, her father read an email in which someone from Kira’s school environment said, “Kira, die.” “It was there that I realized the extent of the suffering my girl had gone through. Kira didn’t have any mental illness like some people say she did he killed himself because he could no longer take the abuse he suffered«.
For José Manuel, harassment that shows no signs of violence is the most dangerous because it is the most difficult to detect. “Many people believe that bullying It’s physical abuse and going home with a split lip, and it’s not; on bullying it is humiliation, contempt, feeling of marginalization… This makes a breakthrough. If my daughter had not committed suicide, her case would have gone unnoticed,” he says.
“They told me they would fix it”
Repeatedly this father called the school Pare Manyanet de Sant Andreu in Barcelonaof which Kira is a student to alert the administration and teachers that her daughter is a victim of bullying. “They always told me they would fix it. And he ended up taking his own life,” he says. “They make you believe that this is the only case, that it’s something extraordinary and that they have no record of what happened to the girl. After my daughter killed herself, many parents have told me the same thing has happened to their children“, he reveals.
The day after Kira’s death, the same school decided not to cancel a planned field trip. “They went on an excursion, It’s like nothing happened. “I guess they wouldn’t want to admit that my daughter took her own life and they did nothing to prevent it,” he says.
For all this, he filed a criminal complaint against the school, in which the Generalitat de Catalunya and the Barcelona City Council presented themselves as a popular accusation. “Fortunately the school and teachers who allowed my daughter to take her own life are being judgedbut many other schools go unpunished,” he says.
Jose Manuel protested that most centers act passively in cases of bullying. “Even if they say they’re sorry, then they do nothing«. “Professors have written to me and told me that it’s not their fault that they can’t be police officers, and I tell them to focus on something else. They must be held accountable. They have parental rights while the children are at school, it says in the Civil Code,” he warns.
“How much bullying does he have to get?”
According to UNESCO data in 2020 one in three students between the ages of 11 and 15 are victims of bullying around the world. In the case of Spain, the figures are alarming: between January 2021 and February 2022. 11,229 severe cases of bullying, according to a report by the NGO Bullying Without Borders. Although the number of cases is much higher, as it is estimated that only 15% of students dare to say. Likewise, as of 2020, suicide is the leading cause of death from external causes among minors in Spain.
For this, Jose Manuel blames centers that do not effectively activate anti-bullying protocols. “Most teachers look the other way. When there is bullying and the teacher steps in to root it out, the problem is solved one way or another,” he says. For this parent, moving the child to another class or changing the schedule between classes so that bullies do not coincide with bullies “are effective measures that are rarely taken.”
The current reality is that schools themselves decide whether to implement the anti-bullying protocol. And for it to activate a center, there must have been sustained violence, most of the time physical. “How many insults and humiliations does my daughter have to receive for someone to stop her?. “When my daughter was five years old and she was being beaten at school, the teacher told us that the girl did not know how to defend herself… The teacher is the one who should protect her,” says Jose Manuel.
“It’s a crime”
“If kids who bully aren’t redirected, they’ll be bullies tomorrow,” he says. Likewise, the importance of doing justice to the victim so that they see that there has been reparation is emphasized. “If she’s being bullied and on top of that the victim is the one who has to leave school, what kind of message are we giving that boy or girl.” Ultimately, the only solution is to change your daughter’s centerwhen really the one who has to go is the pursuer ».
On the other hand, he explains that the consequences left by bullying they last a lifetime. “Over time, I noticed a change in my daughter’s character. She became more introverted, it was more difficult for her to communicate with people.
For this reason, it is necessary to place the bullying to the same extent as any other type of crime. “The bullying It is a euphemism to talk about crimes of aggression or threats, or the right to honor. The difference is that as children do… If you insult or assault someone in the street, you are committing a crime; if a minor does the same at school, they don’t get sued. You’re not going to put a kid in jail, but there has to be some kind of consequence,” he explains.
Similarly, he asks, “Why should a child have fewer civil rights than an adult? In cases of sexist violence, for example, the bully is suspended and the aggressor and victim are separated, but in cases of bullying they are allowed to continue in the same class. At most they tell the abuser to apologize, can you imagine the judge in court asking your abuser to apologize and then letting him go?
More than 200,000 signatures
As a result of the death of his daughter, José Manuel launched a campaign through the change.org platform, where he has so far collected more than 200,000 signatures so that the law is changed and anti-bullying protocols are activated effectively, providing schools with the necessary staff and resources so that cases like Kyra’s do not happen again. “My daughter is dead and no one will bring her back to mebut I won’t stop until the laws are changed,” he says.
In his proposal, Jose Manuel highlights several points that he believes would be essential to eradicate the problem: first, that a legal advisor can be consulted during educational inspections and during parent meetings with the management of the center (not as before). On the other hand, if a student of school age commits suicide, an investigation should be immediately and formally initiated. In addition, he also argued that it is not the school that decides to implement the anti-bullying protocol, but that there is a consensus through state law.
The Department for Social Rights and Communities agreed last year that schools and private, public and co-educational centers have “wellness coordinator” mandatory for the academic year 2022-2023. This is a figure that is dedicated to the prevention and protection of cases of violence in the school environment and that ensures compliance with the anti-bullying protocol.
However, the new measure to prevent bullying in schools was criticized by the teachers themselves and the education authorities, because the social care coordinators are the same teachers who perform this function in their non-school hours, instead of being professionals trained in this task. Similarly, unions such as CSIF have decried that this role is ultimately born at the expense of “the goodwill of the teaching staff” who decides to take up the protection of the students. “I think the initiative is very good, but it turned out to be a failure. Now it turns out that there are not enough resources, it is useless,” says Jose Manuel.
“Her dream was to be a pediatrician”
A few weeks ago, President Pedro Sánchez assured that “The problem of bullying at school is one of the priorities” of the Government for this course. But Jose Manuel insists that effective measures be taken. “It is not enough that the president has good intentions, and this is proven by facts, because the people’s children are being killed. No time to waste,” he protested.
In short, what José Manuel is demanding through the collection of signatures is a national standard “that prevents more children and adolescents from killing themselves, as Kira did. This is not my battle, this is the battle of all desperate parents whose children suffer from bullying. We are helpless.”
In conclusion, Jose Manuel resignedly admits that he will never be able to get over his daughter’s death. He only asks the fate of the other boys and girls victims of bullying be different from Kira’s. “I miss him every day, it’s like I’m living in a constant nightmare. She was such a good girl… Her dream was to be a pediatrician.”