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In a world saturated with esoteric symbols, from television to cartoons which more and more often put forward attitudes and patterns of behavior, that are unsuitable for a young audience, one expects at least school to be a safe place, a sanctuary of learning away from the traps of the devil. Yet, this is not always the case. At the nursery school ”A. Einstein” in Reggio Emilia, a few days after the beginning of the school year, several parents noticed the presence of satanic drawings on the diaries provided to the students by  the educational leaders.

Five-pointed stars, a devil with horns in a car, a 666, a cat spiked on a branch, a woman with a snake head who is devouring a man, all those symbols are present in this diary, a slap in the face of common sense. “The differences to be spotted are subliminal messages that evoke Satanism – explained the parents’ representatives -. There are many games they could have played, but that one seems to be little edifying for children of their age”. A comprehensible concern, also because of the constant increase of graphic images of violence, often on the verge of pornography, with which our children are bombarded through all kinds of media.

The case became famous on a national level and contacted Massimo Giacon, the cartoonist who created “the world as it is”, the graphic novel from which the ‘accused’ images were taken. “There are also esoteric symbols and  grotesque representations and they are not meant for a young audience – explained the artist -. It is a page out of 110, that out of the context can be misleading because it concerns a moment when the protagonist of the book drawn by Tiziano Scarpa and me, begins to have hallucinations that affect his perception of reality”. Demetra Communicazioni, the publishing house of the text, refused to comment on what happened. In a press release, it merely apologized and defended itself by asserting that the images “are a useful and, at the same time, recreational form intended to stimulate children’s spirit of observation”. An opinion that is contrasting with that of the author of the drawings himself – the images were used without permission -, who defines them as “unsuitable for children”. “If I had been asked – explained Giacon – I would have recommended to use other material, because after 35 years of career I know what is suitable for children and what is not”.

According to the editors, without contextualization, the images cannot be detrimental for children,  because they can be recognized only by those who are already familiar with those concepts. But is it really so? Symbolism is one of the strongest tools of communication used to transmit a concept, to the point of being constantly employed in advertisements. It seems insignificant, but wedges in a surreptitious way in the psyche, especially in that of the most vulnerable, such as that of our children.

And it is most dangerous precisely when it is inserted without a context, because it incites curiosity and research, and without guidance, threatens to corrupt irreparably the innocence of youth.

 Also the director of the school, Rossana Rinaldini, is doubtful. At first, she had tried to defend the page ‘under accusation’ by asserting it was a hint to “Halloween” and by denying school’s responsibility. She had pointed out also the fact that the diary was approved by a representative of the parents. After the controversy, however, she was forced to take measures, eliminating physically the page from the diaries of all students. Yet another dark spot in a sector as that of Italian school, troubled also by polemics on gender. An agenda carried out  before our very eyes and of which we must be aware. It does not suffice to rely on the good faith of the teachings anymore, at present, more than ever, it is necessary to monitor and get involved in the education of our children. If we refrain from doing so, we give tacitly our consent to the spread of those ideas, and involuntarily to the propagation of evil.

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