A Jewish school was ‘in denial’ over the bullying of a 14-year-old girl who took her own life after she was tormented by a group of boys for years, an inquest heard today.
Mia Janin, a year 10 pupil at the Jewish Free School in Kenton, north-west London, was found dead at her family home in Harrow on March 12, 2021.
Barnet Coroner’s Court heard statements from children in Mia’s year describe how she was bullied online and in person for the three years she attended the school.
The inquest was told a Snapchat group was used by Mia’s tormentors to mock the teenager and post nude photos of her and other female students.
The school denies being aware of the bullying and the difficulties it was causing Mia, but pupils claim they must have been aware but did nothing to stop it.
Mia Janin was found dead at her family home in Harrow on March 12, 2021
Mia as a child with her farther Mariano (right) and mother Marisa (left)
Pictured: The Jewish Free School in Kenton, north-west London where Mia was a year 10 pupil
In statements read out to the the inquest, one of Mia’s friends said: ‘JFS probably did know about Mia’s bullying. Could they not see anything? How did they miss the bullying that was happening in front of them?’
Another added: ‘The school was in denial all the time. They didn’t know she was being bullied and didn’t hold those who bullied her accountable.’
One of the statements described how the group of boys bullied her and other students ‘on buses, class and at home’.
Another described how boys kicked footballs at her and her friends, whilst also filming her and calling her names.
Some of them described how one of the boys labelled Mia’s friendship group the ‘suicide squad’ seven months before Mia took her own life, and that this name stuck.
They also described the Snapchat group chat named ‘Panacha’ which included more than 60 boys from JFS and possibly other schools.
The pupils claimed this chat was widely known about at the school.
Boys used the chat, the inquest heard, to post messages mocking girls at the school, and to post photos of their faces superimposed on to nude bodies of porn stars.
One said they also used the group to share nude photos of girls at the school, which they pressured girls to send them.
In their evidence Mia’s friends said they had not seen the group, but knew when someone had been targeted because the boys would talk about it at school.
One child, who described the group as ‘intimidating’ and ‘disrespectful’ said: ‘I never saw the group chat but did know things would be shared on it because people would talk about what was being shared at school.’
A TikTok video she posted the evening before she died criticising two of her bullies was shared on the Snapchat group.
This led to Mia feeling intensely anxious and she left a voice note with a friend in which she said she was ‘mentally preparing herself to get bullied’ as a result of the video.
A number of the children said that the next day she seemed ‘normal’, but one of her friends recalled a conversation they had had at lunch: ‘She said ‘if you died, would people care about you the next day?’
‘I didn’t think it was a big deal, we laughed it off,’ she said.
Most of the children who gave statements knew Mia was being bullied, but didn’t know how bad things were getting, with one saying: ‘She hid it really well.’
The inquest heard that the Snapchat group was deleted at the request of Rabbi Cohen, the school safeguarding lead, a few weeks after Mia’s death.
Mr Janin described Mia as a ‘bubbly’ girl who had just been invited on a holiday to Greece with her best friend from school
The inquest heard how a group of boys bullied Mia and other students ‘on buses, class and at home’
Pictured: Young Mia is seen in a family photograph at the beach
Mia’s father Mariano Janin gave a moving speech in which he described his daughter as a ‘special person’.
‘Mia was a special person. She was beautiful, bright and full of life, full of light,’ he said.
‘On the last night of Mia’s life we were sitting at the table having dinner, and she told us she had a hard week.
‘I was surprised as to what she said, as she had only been back at school one day. She said she wanted to leave JFS.
‘Marisa [Mia’s mother] told her she could and we could look into home schooling.
‘I was very concerned what would have happened after one day at school, that she should come home distressed.
‘I didn’t realise at the time just how bad things were for her.’
Mr Janin said that when he dropped Mia off at school on 12 March 2021, 18 hours before her death, she had been ‘full of plans’ for the future.
Her father, Mariano Janin, told a previous pre-inquest review hearing in March that she was ‘cyber bullied’
He said she had plans to take up drama again, and to go on holiday to Greece in the summer.
‘The only thing she asked me was permission to go with her friends to Camden Market on Saturday,’ he said.
‘She was planning the weekend and starting to plan the holidays and planning to start cheerleading and drama again.’
Mr Janin asked the coroner: ‘Can you assure me she was not the victim of a pornography ring inside the school? Can you tell me this? This will be my goal, to find the answer to this question.’
The coroner assured him that ‘anything that happened in the school is what we are looking at. There is no evidence that Mia was involved in that.’
The inquest is scheduled to finish tomorrow.
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