Romania’s First: Ninth Grader Sentenced for Bullying

A 16-year-old student from Bacău county was sentenced to a year and a half of detention in a re-education center for minors after hitting and mocking two classmates last February. The victims, pupils with special educational needs, were filmed being assaulted, dragged into the school bathroom and pushed headlong into the toilet bowl.

A case of bullying that would not have escalated if the school representatives had intervened in time and would not have allowed the aggressor student to end up with “a sinister reputation”, say the magistrates in Bacău.

A “numbness” of the education system has turned a case of bullying into a serious crime with “deep” consequences for the victims. This is the conclusion of the judges who decided this case, a year away from the scenes that outraged public opinion.

On January 30, 2023, a video posted on Facebook captured violent scenes in the premises of an educational institution in Bacău. Two students were hit, roughed up, pushed headfirst into the toilet, spat on, put on their knees, forced to kiss the aggressor’s hand and “walk on all fours” after him.

The police launched an investigation. Following the checks, the police discovered where everything had happened and who were the people appearing in the images. The aggressor and the two mocked students were 15 years old and were classmates in the 9th grade of Mangeron College in Bacău, and the scenes had been filmed four days before.
The representatives of the “Dumitru Mangeron” College knew about the incident from the very day it occurred. In the afternoon of January 26, when he arrived home, the mother of one of the victims learned from her son what had happened to him. The boy had been bitten on the back by the attacker and had visible marks.
The woman called the principal and told him what had happened at the school, sent him a photo of her son’s injuries and asked him to take action. The next day, the teacher’s council was convened at the school, which decided to sanction the aggressor student with a written reprimand and to lower the behavior grade by two points.
The two victims were bank colleagues, both of whom were diagnosed with certain deficiencies. At the beginning of the school year, when the headmistress requested their school guidance certificates, specific to children with Special Educational Needs (CES), she asked her colleagues “to show a behavior based on care towards them”.
The two boys, colleagues from the bank, ended up being terrorized by one of the classmates, known in the school as a student with problematic behavior. They were frequently hit and insulted with epithets such as “disabled, scumbags, unwashed, stupid”.
Investigators say the two boy victims were withdrawn, did not communicate much with classmates, constantly avoided the bully, did not challenge him verbally or physically, complied with all his demands, even if they were against their will and often humiliating: they deleted shoes, bought him various food items from a fast food restaurant near the educational facility or had their mobile phones taken by him to check their contents, much to his amusement.
The data in the file show that the school knew about the 15-year-old student’s behavior, but the school management only took measures to provide school counseling and inform his parents.
During the interviews, the two victims told the police that they went to school with fear and stress. The aggressor stated, initially, that everything was “a game”. He then tried to blame the victims, claiming they provoked him. All classmates heard as witnesses contradicted him. “The defendant enjoyed a sinister reputation in the collective of the class”, pointed out the judges who settled the case. Despite the suffering of the children, the parents of the two victims decided during the trial to withdraw their complaint for the crime of beating and other violence. Since the law does not provide for the reconciliation of the parties for deprivation of liberty, the trial continued. The Court of Bacău and then the Court of Appeal concluded that this case is of increased gravity and requires an exemplary punishment to deter the phenomenon of bullying that affects schools in Romania. Found guilty of deprivation of liberty, the aggressor student was sentenced to one year and six months of detention in a juvenile re-education center.
In support of the sentencing decision, the judges indicated the evaluation report of the Bacău Probation Service. Specialists there concluded unequivocally that the 15-year-old student presents a high risk for similar acts and only a custodial sentence could deter his criminal behavior. “The minor defendant committed the crimes for pure pleasure once he knew that the victims had certain deficiencies and would not be able to retaliate, out of the desire to hold supremacy within the group he belonged to by exercising violence, to dominate in a completely rudimentary way his colleagues. As can be seen from the evaluation report, all this against the background of educational deficiencies stemming from the lack of care and control on the part of his parents”, the judges of the Bacău Court of Appeal state in the sentencing decision.
The evaluation of the specialists of the Bacău Probation Service also indicates how it was possible to turn a seemingly ordinary student into a “sinister” aggressor, “a predator”.
Family dysfunctions have been indicated as factors in the teenager’s behavior: his father, who cannot perceive his son as wrong despite the evidence, has been out of the country for a while, his mother not being able to impose any control on her own.
It was also indicated “the numbness, the lack of reaction of the school authorities, authorities, teachers or managers who knew or should have known the situation of the defendant (he took the notebooks of his colleagues pretending that they were his, he asked his colleagues to buy him food with his money etc.)”.
At the hearings, the class master described the student aggressor as “slippery”, as the defendant feigned absolute innocence until proven otherwise.
In the opinion of the judges, the 15-year-old boy would not have ended up in this situation if the family had been able to get involved adequately in the process of growing up and educating, stressing that he “did not end up in this situation alone”.
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  • Panagiotis Spyridis

    This cancer has to stop. The parents must also be prosecuted. Change the relevant law and make them co-responsible.