Society 10/06/2021

Manyanet Sant Andreu school investigated following suicide of 15-year-old student

Family says the minor suffered bullying for years, the school knew and did nothing to stop it

4 min
The Pare Manyanet school in Santo Andreu, this morning.

BarcelonaHer parents do not want any other minor to suffer the same fate as their daughter. She committed suicide on May 19, on her way to the school where she studied, Manyanet Sant Andreu. She was 15 years old. The day before they noticed she behaved "a little different" at home: "We asked her if she was tired and told her to stop studying for a while," her father told ARA, who says he wants to know "what was the trigger" for the death of his only daughter. The teenager's family claims she was the victim of bullying and that the school knew about it and did nothing to stop it. Therefore, although they have not filed a formal complaint, they are providing information to the Mossos d'Esquadra, which according to the ACN are collecting and analysing all the information and will transfer it in official letter to the court which will determine what line to follow. At the same time, the parents have also brought the case to the Catalan Ombudsman, who is already working on it "with absolute confidentiality".

Among the data made available to the Mossos is an e-mail that the family found a few days after the girl's death on Google Classroom app -which in principle can only be accessed by teachers and students of the school with personal school addresses-. The subject line read "death" and the body of the text read "die".

The teenager's family (according to the father, a "shy" and "very studious" girl) has written a letter in which they explain how on several occasions they contacted those in charge at the school - headmasters, teachers and even the psychologist - to denounce their daughter's situation, which had been going on for almost a decade. "We firmly believe that the school, with its attitude, has favoured and continues to favour situations that are absolutely reprehensible and dangerous for the mental and physical health of students. The school's attitude has been to hide these cases so as not to damage the school's reputation," the letter states. In the letter, which was sent to the Oombudsman, parents ask for "speed" in the investigation, and add: "We can no longer do anything for our dear daughter, but we cannot allow this to continue".

ARA has contacted the school and its legal representatives but they have not made any statement about the facts. They have made a few tweets expressing their "rejection of ad hominem attacks" appeared on social media against some teachers at the school, which the centre claims have always had "the role of accompanying and protecting all parties" involved in a conflict.

"Harassment is normalised"

Although they do not refer to them explicitly, the centre was alluding to tweets by university professor David Vidal Castell, who previously took his children to this school and who has explained his case and has named a teacher involved. Vidal has told ARA he took his two children out of the school alarmed by "protocols incompatible with the protection and the rights of minors": "My son was bullied and when we went to explain it to the headmaster, the coordinator laughed in front of the whole class". "Harassment is normalised and people who complain are criminalised, and this generates a huge environment of toxicity," he says. Several Twitter users have commented on Vidal's tweets explaining similar experiences at this same school.

The teenager's father has explained to ARA that his daughter "got very good grades". "The school puts on a lot of pressure over marks, but we told her not to worry if she got worse grades," he says. He regrets that at school, although they did go to the morgue to give their condolences to the family, they have not contacted the parents nor made a public note of condolence. This faith school, which is formally called Jesús, Maria and Josep but is known as Manyanet Sant Andreu, was also in the media because of the case of a priest who had computer archives containing paedophilia. When a school computer scientist discovered them and reported the case to the Mossos, the school removed the computer scientist and threatened to sue him.

In fact, the Ombudsman, Rafael Ribó, has referred to this issue and said that "they were not at all satisfied" with the explanations given by the religious congregation about the case.

40% of Catalan students say they have suffered bullying at school

The Department of Education claims that it had no prior knowledge that the girl was suffering a situation of harassment and has assured that it will review all actions. According to sources consulted, the Ministry - through the new Unit of Support for Students in a Situation of Violence (USAV) - and the Consortium of Education "will take the necessary actions".

Precisely a few days ago a web application to report cases of aggression at school was launched. After the creation of the new support unit for students in situations of violence (USAV), which has received 183 complaints of violence in the school environment - mostly cases of bullying among peers - in just two months, the Department of Education has created the new app, to which anyone can submit a complaint, which will then be followed up "in the best possible" manner. All this is part of the plan Schools Free of Violence, which calls to end "silences and endogamy that favours silences" on this violence and has made cases like these invisible.

According to a survey by Amalgama 7, an organisation dedicated to the care of teenagers and their families, and the Portal Foundation, a third of students (28%) admit they have harassed a classmate physically or psychologically at least once. Bullying is a social pestilence in the shadows that 40% of Catalan students claim to have suffered.

If you need help, call 900 92 55 55

The City Council of Barcelona, together with the Foundation Ajuda i Esperança, launched a Suicide Prevention Hotline in August 2020. This service responds to calls where there is some kind of suicidal content: suicidal ideation, suicidal crisis, survivors of people who have died by suicide, as well as any other experience close to suicide. If you need help, you can call 900 92 55 55.