While the 700 students who attend the IES Elena García Armada in Jerez de la Frontera returned to normal today, a Coexistence Commission was established at the center to determine if the 14-year-old boy who on Thursday attacked two of his classmates with two knives and three teachers were being bullied.
It is the first hypothesis that the National Police, which has taken charge of the investigation, is considering, based on the first indications of some students. “Some of the first witnesses to testify state that the minor could have been a victim of teasing or bullying,” the spokesperson for the security force told Canal Sur.
As has been reported, the boy, who could have ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder), could have been suffering from this type of violence at school for years. That several colleagues threw water at him the day before the attack could have been the trigger that made him act this way.
At the moment, the minor remains admitted since Friday in a closed center by order of the Juvenile Prosecutor of the city of Cadiz, who imposed this precautionary measure while the investigation continues. The trial could still take a couple of months to take place.
The Commission, made up of part of the teaching team, the director of the institute and some parents, is now trying to find out what was happening at the center with the student who carried out the attack, if he was a victim of bullying, as well as to find out the reasons why those in which this situation was not detected in time. The conclusions of their investigation, parallel to that carried out by the National Police, will likely take a few days to be known.
"If it is confirmed by the Commission that there may have been some type of harassment, the corresponding harassment protocol will be activated, as it cannot be otherwise," detailed today the Minister of Education of the Government of Andalusia, Patricia del Pozo. , who has asked for “caution” to find out if the teasing and violent actions against the student have been “a specific issue” or “something that has been repeated over time.”
On the other hand, the counselor has reported that the aggressor student "has never had any problem of conflict, neither in this educational center, nor in the one where he was in primary school."
The boy was “a lonely person,” as some of his classmates have described, which could have made him an easy target for bullies. At the expense of knowing the reasons why he acted in this way, the No Al Asoso Escolar (NACE) association considers that what happened in Jerez on Thursday is “compatible with a case of bullying,” and points out that the minor is “powerless.” and cornered, he pours out his rage and pain against others, in an excessive manner.”
In this sense, the Spanish Autism Confederation, together with the Cádiz Autism Association and the Andalusia Autism Federation, has issued a statement consulted by La Vanguardia in which it is emphasized that "autism has no direct relationship with aggressive or violent.” In fact, the same sources point out that "people with ASD have a high risk of being victims of situations of violence, harassment, mockery or aggression carried out by other people, since they have great difficulties identifying these behaviors and asking for help."
In figures, according to international studies, more than 50% of students with autism suffer bullying, a figure that increases to 80% if they do not manifest this associated disability. Autism Spain has also carried out an analysis on the incidence of bullying in students on the spectrum (Situation of students with autism spectrum disorder. 2020/2021 academic year) in which it is noted that 12% of students with ASD in compulsory education confirm having suffered at least one bullying situation during their education, more than half say they have been victims of more than one. The most common form is social exclusion or relational harassment (71%), followed by verbal harassment (13%) and cyberbullying (6%).
The study focuses on a “worrying” fact: 33.5% of these children say they do not know if they have been a victim of any of these situations, something that shows the “serious difficulties they experience in identifying them, reporting them and asking for aid". Hence the need for educational centers and teachers to have the necessary tools to identify this type of behavior, as well as to have protocols that serve to fight against this scourge where students with autism are contemplated.
Last year, Andalusia opened a total of 1,367 school bullying files throughout its geography, of which 140 cases were confirmed as such. The Minister of Education of the Government of Andalusia has confirmed that there has been a downward curve in this scourge compared to the 2018/2019 academic year, when 1,535 files were studied, of which in 201 it was found that there was a harassment situation.
The head of Education explained that "in the autonomous community right now we have a total of six protocols in force, which are the protocol for action in cases of bullying, the protocol for action in case of child abuse, the protocol in case of gender violence in the educational field, the action protocol in case of aggression towards teachers or non-teaching staff, the action protocol on gender identity and the action protocol in situations of cyberbullying", which "will soon be "will unite a new protocol to prevent suicide, suicidal behavior or self-harm among our students."
Del Pozo has clarified that in the case of the harassment protocol, it only goes ahead when the management team of the educational center, after a period of monitoring and surveillance of the case, "if in the end it is confirmed that there is harassment, that is when the timely disciplinary measures", which in the most serious cases can be "the suspension of attendance at the center for a maximum period of 29 days for the harassing student and ultimately the change of center."