Amal Alshteiwi, a newcomer to Canada from Syria, took her own life several weeks ago. (THE NEWS/files)

Calgary’s public school board responds to Syrian child’s suicide after bullying

Amal Alshteiwi, a newcomer to Canada from Syria, took her own life several weeks ago

Calgary’s public school board says it’s taking the suicide of a nine-year-old student seriously after the girl’s parents raised concerns about bullying.

Amal Alshteiwi, a newcomer to Canada from Syria, took her own life several weeks ago.

READ MORE: Canadian research finds steep increase in suicide attempts by children

Her parents told CTV Calgary that Amal’s teacher had been informed of bullying by her classmates.

They say the school did nothing to address the issue.

Christopher Usih, who is the chief superintendent of the Calgary Board of Education, says his staff is working closely with the school principal to gather information from students and teachers to try to understand what happened.

The family had fled violence in Syria and arrived in Canada nearly three years ago, hoping for a better life.

They say their daughter was happy in her first years at school, but noted the bullying from other students began in Grade 4 when she began to struggle with math.

“When I noticed that my kid was having problems at the school and slipping away … I went to the school myself,” her mother, Nasra Abdulrahmin, said through a translator.

Amal’s father, Aref Alshteiwi, recounted the heartless taunts of her classmates.

“They were saying, ‘you’re stupid, you’re ugly, nobody loves you,’” said Alshteiwi. “Even if you move to another school, they still think there’s nobody that’s going to love you there.”

She had switched schools in the weeks before her death, but her dad said the damage had already been done and he found her body in her room in March.

“I want to know what happened to my daughter and why this happened,” said Alshteiwi.

The Calgary Police Service has investigated the young girl’s death, but they concluded there was no evidence of foul play.

A review is ongoing by the Calgary Board of Education.

“We take this matter very seriously,” the school board said in a statement. “We strive to ensure that our schools are safe and inclusive environments that support and respond to the needs of our students and staff.

“If students and parents have concerns about bullying, they are encouraged to speak with their teacher and school principal.”

The Canadian Press

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