The parents of 16-year-old Dagmara Przybysz are still suffering over their daughter’s tragic death in the UK. And the truth about the tragic events of May last year does not seem likely to be explained. The girl hanged herself. Why? Officially it is not known. However, what seems incomprehensible to investigators had been known to her school teachers.
Reportedly, she was plagued by a girl gang. But nobody believed her. Frankly speaking, the problem was ignored from the very beginning. And when an investigation was finally launched and the girl’s file was brought to court, it was hoped that the tragedy would be explained by the Pool Academy in Redruth, Cornwall on 17 May 2016.
This was the greatest hope of the suicide victim’s parents. But there was a wider interest, too. It is no secret that in many schools all over the world adolescent violence is a fact. British schools are no exception. Dagmara’s case at its present stage suggests that allegedly the teachers and directors of the school where she committed suicide were fine. If this is so, why did that young, beautiful and ambitious Polish girl take her own life? Why were the signals that she was plagued by her peers, girl-friends, ignored? The indolence of the services that were too late in intervening to rescue the girl is another issue.
The scenario can reoccur
Dagmara’s parents know that nobody can restore their daughter’s life. Yet, they hoped they could find out the reasons for the tragedy, as well as the perpetrators. To explain the circumstances could help prevent other tragedies. They are disappointed. What seems most important today is… peace of mind and a concern for the “reputation” of the school where the tragedy occurred. No one wants a blemish on the education system, one that has failed to address the problem of racism.
Let’s not blame Brexit
Is not calling Dagmara a “stupid Pole” or telling her to “get out to her country” a form of racism? Brexit is not to blame here – it is the school’s teachers and managers who did not see a way to prevent such tragedies in the multicultural society. The “system” has won. At least for the time being, as the coroner stated that Dagmara’s death did not result from racist pressure from her peers. However, the teachers failed totally. Not only because they were not able to prevent or stop the abuse of the Polish girl, but also because they failed to come to Dagmara’s aid when the tragedy happened. And every minute was crucial in that case. Coroner, Dr Emma Carlyon, now needs an honest reflection to answer the question: what made her issue the surprising opinion that there was no evidence for Dagmara’s being plagued at school, except for one message that she sent to her boyfriend that she felt hounded at school?
Happy people don’t hang themselves
But the coroner contradicts herself. Carlyon said that Dagmara experienced “trouble” from her peers right before her death, yet the coroner did not take this fact into account. Rather, Carlyon puts emphasis on the fact that the Polish girl was satisfied with her relationship with her boyfriend and was happy to go to a school ball with him. Does such a happy girl commit suicide, hanging herself at school? Carlyon states that there was no evidence for any mental problems with Dagmara, that the girl did not suffer from any racist behaviour in her environment. Teachers described Dagmara as a friendly, happy girl with an upbeat character, who loved football.
Ewelina, mother of the deceased, says that there was a certain girl at school who was hard on Dagmara. She called her names. “I don’t know what she told my daughter a couple of days before her death. I don’t know if that was a racist incident, but I can say that Dagmara would often be called a ‘stupid Pole’.”
The woman adds that in her opinion, Dagmara’s greatest problem was not the racist harassment, but rather constant bullying and persecution. Dagmara’s boyfriend, Lewis Simpson, heard Dagmara say that her girl acquaintances told kept telling her to go back to Poland. That hurt Dagmara a lot.
School: she was ok
And what about the school? There were no reports of Dagmara’s suffering due to bullying or racist behaviour. At least this is what the school’s deputy head, Lisette Neesham, claims. Neesham states that the school is very serious about such behaviour. We have written about the tragedy many a time. We wrote about a turning point which – as it seemed – occurred when it turned out that the previous suspicions as to the causes of Dagmara’s desperate step proved justified. Investigating officers found that the teenage girl had problems with other girls. Before her final act, Dagmara complained about racist comments from her peers. Even earlier, when she completed an internet questionnaire, she wrote that such slurs were her most serious problem at school. She grumbled about the distress she went through over the rumours spread behind her back.
Dagmara’s grandmother living in Poland does not understand the behaviour of the British girls. She said that when her granddaughter turned 16, nobody at school wished her happy birthday. When it was suggested that Dagmara had mental problems, Zofia Dobek, Dagmara’s grandmother from Radgoszcz, Małopolska, stated categorically: "nonsense". According to her, this was just a cover for the true reasons for her granddaughter’s death. Neither did the coroner find any mental disorders in the Polish teenager. Zofia Dobek remembers her granddaughter saying that she did not understand why she was persecuted at school. Zofia last saw Dagmara in August 2015. She reports her granddaughter longing for her country and friends. This is why she visited her homeland often. “I really missed her. She told me not to be sad – she tried to comfort me” – remembers the grandmother of the 16-year-old.
Broken dreams and plans
Dagmara’s story resembles those of other teenagers who came to the UK with their parents to start a new life. Dagmara came here as a seven-year-old. She had great expectations for her British future. When her body was found dead at school, newspapers reported a “sudden and unexplained event.” Soon however, it turned out that what her friends and relatives suspected was true. It was Dagmara’s peers who hounded her. Her dead body was found on a May afternoon, several minutes past 2:00 p.m. Attempts at resuscitation proved futile – it was too late, and there was no adequate equipment. She was pronounced dead at the scene. The police state there was doubtful evidence of any racist behaviour of her peers. They only refer to what Dagmara had posted at ask.fm. When asked about any problems at school, she answered: "racism". The Pole explained that she was sad when people she thought were her friends turned out to be nasty. Zelma Hill, representative of the school Dagmara attended says that everybody took the Polish student’s death very emotionally. On the one hand, Dagmara’s being friendly to her peers, on the other – malicious attacks at her. Plus, the management of the institution which feels it has no need to redeem itself.
The police have bungled the job
When the police started their investigation into the tragic death, they assumed there were no suspects. And the case got stuck although it was not difficult to find people who knew how Dagmara had been treated at school. John Hannaford, Camborne and Redruth Police Inspector, now prefers to remember that his people expressed their sympathy to the girl’s family than to comment on the details of the case.
The said text posted by Dagmara has overshadowed the case form the beginning, and has still remained relevant. Had the police followed the clue, they would probably have arrived at the conclusion that the Polish teenager was persecuted and hounded.
- Do you experience any problems at school? "Racism".
- What makes you sad? "When people who you think are your friends are behind such dirty tricks". These are Dagmara’s answers found at a teenage Internet portal.
The Polish teenager studied at the Pool Academy in Pool, between Camborne and Redruth. She had ambitious plans for the future. They are, sadly, gone with her tragic death. British tabloids feeding on scandals focused their attention on Dagmara’s problems with her environment. They were strongly refuted, yet today it turns out that they were on the right track. It only takes a glance at the Internet forums where parents of Polish kids attending schools in the UK exchange their comments, to find out that persecution from the local people is not a rare thing. From the beginning the case was ill-handled. Since it was assumed that there were no third parties involved and the school prohibited its students from commenting on the tragedy in the media, then we are not really talking about “explaining” the circumstances.
The police had their version, and the girl’s environment has its own version. It was no secret that Dagmara did not have good peer relationships at school. Racist comments from other students were common. When she was found dead, comments started to be voiced that she had been hounded. Do we need another tragedy for the heads of British schools to notice the problem of racism towards Polish pupils?