An argument in an Abu Dhabi school during recess erupted when four boys reportedly attacked their fellow classmate, Loujain Hussain. She was beaten so brutally she suffered a brain hemorrhage and is now in a coma.
Loujain Hussain, 11 years old, was allegedly beaten by four boys, ages 9 and 10 in the girls section of the school playground. All are students in Grade 4 at the Al Ma'ali International Private School in Abu Dhabi. GulfNews.com reports that the four boys involved are being closely monitored according to school principal, Khadeeja Al Sayyar.
"They [the four boys] are being watched by teachers to make sure that nothing more happens … they are also being kept indoors during recess out of concern for the reactions of fellow pupils. Additionally the entire Grade 4 section has been shifted to a new location closer to the supervisor's office so they can also be monitored."
The Abu Dhabi school which is co-ed follows an Arabic-American curriculum and its 1,500 pupils are taught in two buildings.
The National.ae reports that after the fight, Loujain, an Iranian, immediately complained of stomach pains and was eventually brought to the school clinic where the nurse asked her older sister, who is also a student at the school, to call their parents.
But Loujain's father, Hussein Abdullah says when he arrived at the school he found his daughter unconscious.
"She would not move, open her eyes or respond to us calling her. Every time I'd pick her up, she'd fall back down. The nurse gave her some water, and then she'd throw it up."
Loujain's condition did not get any better when she was brought home, and her father took her to hospital two hours later. Mr Abdullah says he is very concerned that the school did not attend to his daughter's condition quickly enough.
"Why did the school not call an ambulance immediately or admit her to hospital when they saw her state? The school is all the way in Mussafah, so it takes us time to reach the school then take her to the hospital."
But the principal defends the school's actions. She claims Loujain complained of stomach pains before she was beaten in the playground.
"She was complaining of nausea and had thrown up during her Islamic studies class before the break. After the incident, she continued complaining about stomach pain at which point the teacher told her to go the nurse. I saw the girl and there were no apparent marks or bruises. She was also responsive when we called her name."
Loujain's family was disturbed enough to immediately file a complaint with police who contacted the school and asked for the names of the boys involved. After an internal investigation, school officials identified four boys of mixed nationalities.
School officials dubbed the incident a minor playground quarrel between two groups of pupils. Principal Khadeeja puts it this way,
"It was a normal quarrel between schoolchildren that escalated when the boys pushed the girls. Loujain was carrying a Barbican bottle at the time, which is not permitted on school grounds. Some of the boys claimed she also tried to hit them with the bottle."
But Mr. Hussein has a different view. He claims one of the boys pushed Loujain so hard that she hit a wall, and then fell on three other children. After that, he says, the four boys began attacking her.
The boys and their parents were asked to go to the police station where they were questioned and required to sign a document promising that such behavior would not be repeated.
Loujain remains in a medically induced coma at the Shaikh Khalifa Medical City hospital, suffering from swelling of her brain and bruising. Mahran is Loujain's older brother.
"Loujain is stable, but the doctors are still worried that she is not able to open her eyes. Because of her brain injuries, they had to postpone Loujain's MRI twice to next week."
Principal Khadeeja insists that the boys were not aware of the seriousness of their actions and their consequences. j
"They are just young children, only nine or 10 years old … now they are scared to go anywhere because of the negative attention they are receiving."
The Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC) has now launched an investigation into the incident and the school says it is cooperating with it. School officials admit,
"The boys have not been suspended because that can only be done if we receive instructions from ADEC … however, it is likely that they will not be accepted for the upcoming academic year."