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Catholic School Must Pay Bullying Victim After Urging Bully "To Pray"

The private school outside Buenos Aires must pay the family of a student who was tormented for six years. Officials of the Catholic primary school had invited the main bully "to pray," rather than taking necessary steps to keep the victim safe.

Photo of the brown school building

The school on the outskirts of Buenos Aires

Photo: Clarin
Fabián Debesa

ENSENADA — A school near Buenos Aires has been ordered to pay damages equivalent to nearly $5,000 for "not doing enough" to protect a primary school student from six years of bullying.

The abuse was mostly at the hands of one classmate, and included being hit in the school yard, pushed down the stairs, punched and grabbed, and insulted inside and outside the school, Clarín reported last week.


The mother of the boy had written to inform the La Inmaculada school in Ensenada of her son's trauma, "just so you know."

An implicit duty to prevent harm.

Judges of two provincial courts ruled that the school had failed in its "implicit" duty to prevent "harm" coming to a minor under its charge. The school had arranged meetings with the parents, and as a Catholic school, invited the bully "to pray." It was ordered to pay the family 480,000 Argentine pesos ($4,850) plus interest for psychological harm resulting from bullying that spanned from 2013 to 2018.

The ruling was unusual in Argentina. The head of an association of private schools of the Buenos Aires province, Héctor Reynoso, told Clarín there was no record in recent years of a school being fined over bullying.

The first sentencing court had observed that "prayer and invocation of the Virgin's protection" may be a "solace" to children "of that faith" but are not "presently the means and resources institutions must [utilize] to analyse such situations, establish a plan of action, then evaluate the results."

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