06/06/14 (written by dpera) — Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission (Comisión Nacional de los Derechos Humanos, CNDH) opened an investigation into bullying and violence among adolescents in schools after the recent death of a young student in Ciudad Victoria, Tamaulipas. Alejandro Méndez Ramírez (12) was hospitalized on May 14 after a “game” in which students were forcefully throwing each other to the floor resulted in Méndez Ramírez sustaining serious head injuries. Méndez Ramírez died on May 21 in the hospital.
The CNDH is opening an investigation because the punches sustained by Méndez Ramírez at school, Escuela Secundaria Número 7, that were provoked by the aggression of classmates were ignored and unanswered by the teacher and the deputy director on duty, both of whom have since been suspended by the Tamaulipas Secretary of Education (Secretaría de Educación Pública de Tamaulipas, SEP) while investigations into the matter are underway. This is not the only case that has fueled the CNDH response; rather, violence in Mexican schools has increased by 10% since 2011. During 2013, the CNDH issued seven recommendations to the federal Secretary of Public Education, all of which involved cases where students were victims of negligence, aggression, or violence by their teachers. Speaking on the gravity of the issue, particularly in the U.S.-Mexico Border States where bullying and violence in schools seems to be the biggest problem, one teacher from Sonora commented that the affected areas suffer from “a devastated social fabric. The kids don’t bully; they openly attack each other. They steal from each other, at recess taking food or drinks, fighting or arguing.” As quoted in a Mexico Voices’ translation, he continued, “it can’t be called bullying, it’s violence.”
Parents and teachers throughout Mexico are seeing the urgent need to address the issue of increased violence in schools. Juan Martín Pérez García, director of the Network for Children’s Human Rights in Mexico (Red por los Derechos de la Infancia en México, REDIM) remarked that the organized crime-related and armed violence plaguing Mexico is reflected in schools, and that there needs to be a public program that begins to address the issue of violence among youth. In fact, experts have come up with six suggestions that the government can implement in order to combat rising levels of bullying. These include diagnosing and defining the problem; educating kids in ethics, diversity, and consequences; educating parents on ways to raise children that combat violence; training teachers to understand and intervene in acts of aggression; forming a strategy that involves all levels and sectors of government action to be involved; and creating a federal law that establishes sanctions for bullying. President Enrique Peña Nieto has since announced that the government would establish a national policy to rid schools of bullying, signaling to the Secretary of Public Education that the creation and implementation of anti-bullying programs must be accelerated.
Zambrano, Jaime. “El ombudsman, Raúl Plascencia, dijo que el organismo está dando cursos de capacitación para docentes, padres de familia y alumnos para prevenir la violencia al interior o exterior de las escuelas.” Milenio. May 21, 2014.