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Colombia: 12-Year-Old Boy Bullied at School Dies

On Tuesday April 24, 2012, John Alexander Larrahondo, age 12, died over a week after three of his classmates reportedly beat him because he had defended a 9-year-old girl from their class. The incident happened at the Los Gómez School [es], located in the rural area of Itagüí, a municipality of the Antioquia department near Medellín.

Although forensics ruled [es] the cause of death was a bone condition, his mother [es] and some physicians [es] rejected the ruling and claim bullying was the ultimate cause of the boy's death.

The Attorney General's Office opened [es] an investigation, and the Justice Minister stated [es] that bullying is “unacceptable” and must be fought by the competent authorities (namely, the Ministries of Education and Justice, the Colombian Institute of Family Welfare, and the Attorney General's Office). Meanwhile, Green Party Senator Gilma Jiménez said [es] she will bring the issue to Congress.

On Twitter, @mariaramitas writes (1, 2) [es]:

El problema de los chinos de ahora es que ven el matoneo como simple mamadera de gallo. Y los profesores no es que hagan mucho tampoco. Y si lo del matoneo sigue así, no demoran dos culicagados y agarrar el colegio a bala a lo Columbine. Pilas profesores.

The problem with today's kids is that they see bullying as if it were just joking around. And teachers don't do much either. And if the bullying thing keeps going on like this, soon two boys will shoot up a school with bullets like in Columbine. Attention, teachers.

With sorrow, Juan Gonzalo Benítez (@juanbenitez1973) tweets [es]:

Triste, indignado… un niño de 12 años murio por una paliza. Lo mataron a patadas porque “puso la queja” de que agredieron a otra niña

Sad, outraged… a 12 year old boy died because of a beating. He was kicked to death because he “complained” that another girl was attacked

María Isabel Ángel (@MaisAngel) shows [es] her pessimism:

A mí lo de la muerte del niño por matoneo en Itagüí me quita aún más la fe en la humanidad. Queda uno desmoralizado

The child's death due to bullying in Itagüí further takes my faith in humanity away from me. I'm left demoralized.

Lina Rouge (@linarouge) reacts [es] to the forensic's ruling:

Bueno espero que ahora que se sabe que el niño no murió por los golpes, no nos hagamos los bobos con el asunto del “matoneo” en los colegios

Well, I hope that now that we know the kid didn't die because he was beaten, we don't play dumb with the ‘bullying’ issue at schools.

Journalist Víctor Solano (@solano) posted several tweets about the issue (1, 2, 3, 4), [es] and later elaborated in his column [es] for the Colombian version of the free daily Metro newspaper [es]:

Anoche creo que a varios se nos escurrieron las lágrimas con la nota del niño asesinado por sus compañeros de clase por defender a una niña. Y eso que la nota no fue amarillista; simplemente mostró que nuestra sociedad está incubando una generación movida por el odio. [...] Nuestra sociedad perdió los lacrimales por agotamiento; nos secamos cuando la violencia se volvió paisaje y la indolencia nos gobernó. La muerte de ese niño nos comprueba que tocamos fondo, pero aún así seguimos cavando como esperando encontrar lo peor de nosotros.

Last night I think some of us cried with the report of the child killed by his classmates for defending a girl. The report wasn't even sensationalistic; it simply showed that our society is incubating a generation moved by hatred. [...] Our society lost its lacrimal [glands] out of exhaustion; we dried up when violence became a landscape and indolence ruled us. The death of that child proves we've hit the bottom, but even so we're still digging as if we wished to find the worst of us.

Carolina Ruiz (@CaroRuizG) writes [es] claiming she was left speechless, while @lncognito tweets [es] that the problem must be solved through education and not with repression.

In the blogosphere, colombiaopina writes [es] about the responsibility of parents, teachers, and the State, and asks for laws to be reviewed:

Urge entonces una revisión e integración de las normas que tienen que ver con las conductas delictivas de infantes y adolescentes, haciendo más drásticas las medidas cautelares en desarrollo de la implementación del Sistema de Responsabilidad Penal de niños y adolescentes de que trata el Decreto 4652 de 2006.

Both a revision and the integration of the norms dealing with the crimes committed by children and teenagers are urgent, making the protective measures more drastic in the development of the implementation of the System of Criminal Responsibility for children and teenagers enacted by Decree 4652, 2006.

Jaime Andrés Jaramillo Botero, at Ojo en lupa, writes [es]:

Pero el control y la observancia, como dijo Fajardo, deben partir de nosotros como padres, responsables del futuro de nuestros hijos; y de la Escuela, como el aparato ideológico por excelencia, al cual le confiamos la educación de nuestra descendencia.

But control and observance, as [Antioquia governor Sergio] Fajardo said, must come from us as parents, responsible for the future of our children, and from the school, as the quintessential ideological machine, to which we entrust the education of our descendants.

Finally, Wilmar Mejía criticizes [es] the Itagüí municipality and the media for focusing on the incident without reporting the context of the rural school and the situation of the teachers in the area:

El matoneo entre los escolares implicados es objeto de noticia, pero nada se comenta porque no hay interés en hacerlo, acerca de la historia reciente de la Institución Educativa, de sus procesos académicos y administrativos, del déficit de oportunidades de recreación, cultura, deportes o de continuidad en el ciclo de formación técnica, tecnológica o profesional, para los niños y jóvenes que residen en las veredas.

The bullying between the involved students is news, but no one says anything because there's no interest, about the school's recent history, its administrative and academic processes, the lack of opportunities for recreation, culture, sports or continuity in the cycle for technical, technological or professional formation for the children and teens who live in the towns.

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