Social media may have led to schoolgirl's death last year, father says

Father of schoolgirl at top Jewish school who took her own life after first day of classes following lockdown believes social media messages may have led to her death

  • Mia Janin died one day after returning to school from lockdown last March 
  • The 14-year-old was reportedly bullied at the Jewish Free School in North London
  • Her father said he believes social media may have played a part in her death
  • But her phone has remained locked pending investigation for months 
  • For support call the Samaritans on 116123 or go to www.samaritans.org

The father of Mia Janin, a 14-year-old pupil of the Jewish Free School (JFS) who killed herself in March 2021, has said he believes social media messages may have led to his daughter’s death. 

Mariano Janin implored parents and pupils of JFS to come forward with information regarding Mia’s death and expressed concern that venomous social media messages or videos may have tipped his daughter, who had been subject to bullying according to fellow pupils, over the edge.

‘This whole experience has been a nightmare that is too horrible to explain. Every day feels as though I am living in slow motion. Parents with information — please take it to the coroner,’ he told The Times. 

‘We need to know what happened for the sake of other children as well as for Mia.’

Janin became the third pupil at the Jewish state school in North London to kill herself since 2017 when she took her own life one day after returning to school following lockdown last year.

The year 10 pupil reportedly asked her parents if she could move school the evening before her death, and investigators discovered she had sent a voice message to a friend ahead of the first day back in which she said she was ‘mentally preparing herself to get bullied by him and all of his boyfriends’. 

Mariano also said he knows Mia logged into a social media app just hours before her death, but does not know what she saw, sent or received. 

Her phone was handed to police in the wake of her death but has remained locked, keeping Mariano and the rest of Mia’s family in awful suspense for more than a year.

It is set to be unlocked before the next hearing into Mia’s death takes place on Wednesday, and Mariano hopes investigators will discover the catalyst that drove his daughter to end her life.

Janin became the third pupil at the Jewish state school in North London to kill herself since 2017 when she took her own life one day after returning to school following lockdown last year

Jewish Free School in Kenton, North London, was branded ‘inadequate’ in an emergency Ofsted inspection following Mia’s death last year

Mia’s death bears a stark resemblance to that of Molly Russell, another 14-year-old JFS student who killed herself in 2017 after viewing messages on social media, and prompted an emergency Ofsted investigation into the school.

Ofsted’s report downgraded the largest Jewish school in Europe from ‘good’ to ‘inadequate’ and announced many JFS pupils were subject to harsh bullying with little to no intervention from staff.

‘Not all pupils observe appropriate boundaries. Relationships between some pupils are damaged by unchallenged, inappropriate behaviour,’ the report read.

‘In some cases, this has escalated to harmful behaviour, including sexual harassment. Many pupils report sexual bullying, including via social media.’

Meanwhile, a change.org petition launched by one of Mia’s fellow pupils accused the school of refusing to acknowledge the year 10 student’s death and called for renewed mental health support for attendees of JFS.

‘We had an assembly on the same day introducing our interim head teacher and not once did they mention Mia or bullying or prioritising mental health… It needs to be known that JFS has not taken accountability for their role in this tragic incident… they have not done anything to further support anybody and they claim they want their students to feel safe,’ the petition read, having claimed Mia was ‘brutally bullied for such a long time’.

A change.org petition launched by one of Mia’s fellow pupils accused the school of refusing to acknowledge the year 10 student’s death and called for renewed mental health support for attendees of JFS

Former JFS headteacher Rachel Fink wrote in the aftermath of Mia’s death :’We know how special and close a Jewish school community can be and how such devastating news can affect pupils, staff and governors and we want them to know that we are thinking of them.’

Fink along with several other heads stressed the dangers posed to young people by social media platforms and added that the issue was ‘not a problem particular to JFS or indeed to our community,’ highlighting the fact the death came after just one school day following months of lockdown.

JFS headteacher Dr David Moody, who joined after Mia’s death, told The Times: ‘All aspects of this case are currently being investigated by external agencies including the police and coroner’s office.  

‘JFS is a school that is always looking to improve and we will ensure that any recommendations or conclusions are acted upon.’

The Metropolitan Police said: ‘Throughout this investigation officers have ensured the girl’s family have been updated with the progress of this work. A final report will be provided to the coroner … At this time, no evidence of criminality has been found.’

Inquests into the two deaths prior to Mia’s involving JFS pupils found no fault with the school. 

For support call the Samaritans on 116123 or go to www.samaritans.org. 

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