29.06.2012 Beograd

Aleksa and Daniel: one story

"Did Aleksa have to die?" If you are shocked and felt pain in the chest looking at our front page and reading the article about the death of a boy from Nis, who was the victim of bullying for months, we have to tell you it was our goal.

 

We do not want to be an amusement medium with articles that last as long as orchids - one day before they got forgotten and thrown into the junkyard of history. We want to influence our reality, change it and make it better.

And again, to be honest, we are not original in this attempt. Practically the same title, only with a different name, appeared twenty years ago in Australia and caused the local authorities to drastically change their behavior in cases of violence.

Australian victim was Daniel Valerio and in 1990. he was only two and a half years. When he was admitted to hospital unconscious his body had 104 injuries. Autopsy results were even more shocking: both of his femurs were broken and forensic report said that such injuries of internal organs were only seen in victims of traffic accidents, and even then only when hit by a truck. Daniel's stepfather was suspected for murder and was sentenced to a maximum penalty of 20 years.

The story would probably end there if the local media did not see that this tragedy hides another, much bigger problem. It was established that in the months preceding his death, little Daniel was in contract with 21 professional, including doctors and teachers - and that none of them reacted. When he went to elementary school with his mother to visit a sister, a teacher saw numerous bruises on his face. He approached the boy, patted him on the head and asked if everything was all right. Later he recalled that the boy was silent and just looked at him blankly. Four days later he was dead.

It took three years before the title "Did Daniel have to die?" appeared on the cover of the Australian edition of Time magazine. The most famous Australian novelist Helen Garner raised a voice on behalf of the general public and required drastic changes to the system. Only a few months later the government passed a law under which all services and all individuals are obliged to report any case which may seem to be associated with violence. In a year when the law was passed more than 13,000 cases were reported, and ten years later 38,000. Services finally started doing their jobs and Daniel became a symbol of the struggle for non-violence.

Of course, many will say that Serbia is not Australia and that we shouldn’t expect that the authorities would change anything (they have better things to do, like choosing the positions), but that doesn’t give the right to us, media representatives, to turn our heads. Anyone who reads a story about young Aleksa and his struggle will be shocked and will want to do something, to change something. His school and former principals will just pay fines. What about everyone else who knew about the abuse and did nothing?

And to answer the question from the front page of Time and Novi magazin. Neither Daniel nor Alex had to die. But we have to fight to ensure these cases never and nowhere repeat.

author: Milorad Ivanović source: Novi magazin
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