Earlier this week, the bloody scenes of a massacre that occurred in a private kindergarten in the city of Blumenau (Santa Catarina), shook Brazilian society. A 25-year-old man jumped over the wall of the establishment and with an ax murdered four small children between the ages of 4 and 7. Four other children were injured, but are out of danger. Ten days earlier, another case of extreme violence had already left the country on edge: a 13-year-old student from a public school in São Paulo entered with a weapon, killed a teacher and injured several colleagues.
A wave of anguish and shame radiated through the various social strata. It is that since August of last year there have been 10 cases of attacks and threats, although not fatal. This means that three times as many events occur in eight months as in the past two decades. “There is a clear outbreak of violence, with perpetrators responding to the same pattern of hate speech,” Cleo Garcialawyer and co-author of the study “Extreme attacks on schools in Brazil”, carried out at the University of Campinas (Unicamp).
García judges that “hate speech” and the “naturalization of aggressions” had a great incidence in this succession of tragedies. In his opinion, it is the portrait of “a broader phenomenon of radicalization, which originates from a social and political system in crisis.” It is also a photograph of extremism, in the ideological and political field, which has penetrated socially in the last four years through stories, on social networks, with attacks on human rights and democracy itself.
Of course, the young people who provoked the attacks have themselves been invaded by an emotional problem: “They are students who have suffered exclusion at school or in the family, who feel rejection or do not belong.” These teenagers, or young adults themselves, are the ones who find refuge in far-right groups, where they can freely air their ferocious tendencies. In these brotherhoods, young people often come across a toxic environment, caused by racist and homophobic discourse. It is in them where they find the welcome for the resentment and anger that floods them.
A wave of anguish and shame radiated through the various social strata.
There is another matter that mediates these brutal acts. It is worth remembering that the coming to power of former President Jair Bolsonaro presented the multiplication of photos of him and his children, with weapons in their arms and shooting positions. For the specialists, the images and the sayings that accompanied them “made everything related to violence banal. At the same time, scientific studies on the subject that could have alerted to the tragedies were archived.
Sidarta Ribeiro, an expert in neurosciences from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte, does not hesitate to judge that we live in a society “that causes mental illness. It is capitalism that produces them”. For the scientist, who in 2019 published the book “The Oracle of the Night”, mental health “has to do with the environment and not only with genetics. The social component is undeniable, since it talks about inequality, racism and homophobia”. He also agrees with that vision Lucas Hoogerbrugge, from the All for Education movement, for whom there is also “a contagion effect” in this type of event.
The truth is that episodes like those experienced these days “traumatize and transform the climate in schools. There is fear and insecurity among those who make up the school community and this affects both students and teachers, who fear continuing in the affected schools,” said Valéria Cristina Oliveira, from the Federal University of Minas Gerais.
There is no shortage of reasons for educators to feel apprehensive: according to the São Paulo Public Security Secretariat, after the episodes at the São Paulo school, 55 complaints of new threats against school units were registered.
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