A Syrian girl fled her war-torn country with her family, only to be met by students who allegedly bullied her into taking her own life.
In March, 9-year-old Amal Alshteiwi was found dead after facing verbal and physical abuse by her classmates in Calgary, Canada. Her grieving parents recently spoke up about their daughter’s tragic death, emphasizing the fatal dangers of bullying.
Despite her family’s testimony, police said they have not found enough evidence to prompt a criminal investigation into the bullying accusations.
Amal’s family had escaped war in Syria as government-sponsored refugees over three years ago. According to her parents, Amal had been returning from her school upset and complaining about her classmates verbally and physically harassing her. They repeatedly described her as stupid and ugly.
Though her parents said they reached out to the school management multiple times, Amal was not offered any additional support.
However, after investigating the case, the Calgary Board of Education released a statement claiming “there was no indication of bullying nor was any concern raised to the school,” according to the Middle East Monitor.
“The area office has worked closely with the school principal to gather information from teachers, staff and students to try to understand if there were concerns or issues,” the board added.
As the maltreatment continued, Amal’s parents decided to transfer her to a different school. Four days after switching schools, Amal’s father found her dead in her room.
“Two weeks before she moved from that school to another school, kids came to her and said, ‘Even if you move to another school, they are not going to love you, the kids nor the teachers. Wherever you go, you better just go and kill yourself’,” Amal’s mother told Global News.
According to Calgary Police Service media relations, investigators have not found any evidence of foul play.
Sam Nammoura, co-founder of the Calgary Immigrant Support Society, said Amal’s family did not feel empowered to seek further support prior to their daughter’s death, as is the case with many refugee and immigrant families he works with. He added that her family has been making an effort to share Amal’s story in hopes of raising awareness on the matter.
“We want to see something good, something useful,” he said, as quoted by The Star. “We need to break this taboo somehow.”
This comes as Canada has resettled over 40,000 Syrian refugees since November 2015 through government sponsorship programs as well as the support of private sponsorship groups.
With the rise of anti-refugee and anti-Muslim sentiment across host countries, Syrian refugees have been victims of violent attacks on multiple occasions.
In December 2018, a Muslim Syrian refugee was severely assaulted by a fellow high school student in Pennsylvania, the United States. As a result of the suspected hate crime, the victim required hospital treatment for a concussion.
In another incident that occurred in February 2019, two female Syrian teenagers were attacked by a man in the German capital of Berlin. The man spewed racist insults and went on to punch the girls several times.