France: Teen suicide puts bullying back at the heart of the debate

A 15-year-old boy, who had reported acts of school bullying, committed suicide Tuesday in the Paris region. While this phenomenon has already been made a priority this year, the new Minister of Education, Gabriel Attal, has indicated that new measures will be announced.

Education Minister Gabriel Attal after the announcement of the suicide of a 15-year-old boy who had reported harassment. AFP - GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT

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Only two days after the resumption of classes, the suicide of a 15-year-old teenager Wednesday, September 6 in Poissy, near Paris, comes to mourn the start of the school year. Early Tuesday evening, emergency services intervened for a 15-year-old boy found hanged at his home. After unsuccessful resuscitation attempts, the teenager was pronounced dead. The teenager was schooled last year in the third prep trades at the vocational high school of trades Adrienne-Bolland, in the Yvelines.

Justice calls for caution on the causes of the passage to the act while the National Education has launched an internal investigation.

« We are not up to the task »


The suicide of a young boy is always a tragedy that is difficult to explain. There are obviously various factors," National Education Minister Gabriel Attal said in a speech in the ministry's courtyard. But "each tragedy is one too many, which reminds us that we are still not up to the task," added the minister, who must announce an interministerial plan to fight harassment by the end of September.

Already initiated by former Education Minister Pap Ndiaye, the fight against bullying intensified after the death of Lindsay, 13, in northern France, which highlighted this phenomenon. Bullying at school, which affects one in ten students, has been made a top priority for the government for the 2023-2024 school year.

Gabriel Attal decided to launch an administrative investigation to shed light on the facts of school harassment of which this boy was a victim, but also on the management of this case by the services of the National Education. "These are not people obviously that I want to question, it is the response of the National Education institution to the urgency of school bullying that we must continue to profoundly change," he explained.

See alsoACCENTS D'EUROPE Fight against harassment of teenagers


In December 2022, the boy's harassment had been reported. An appointment had been arranged at the facility. There were reports of harassment and repeated insults by several named students, "said the Minister of Education. "In March 2023, the parents were received by the school. The students involved were also received and their parents were contacted. An exchange of letters also took place in April between the family and the school on the situation of the young boy, the family denouncing, in this letter, the lack of sufficient measures taken to deal with this situation, "he added. The father had filed a handrail for harassment in April at the Poissy police station, but had not wished to file a complaint, a police source said.

The minister said that according to the school, the teenager had "benefited from regular monitoring by the CPE, and this until the end of the school year" and that "a point was made with the father of this young boy" at the end of the school year. The teenager had been attending another school in Paris since the start of the school year.

One million children affected


I do not know if it is the school bullying that killed this teenager today, all we know is that indeed, he was a victim of school bullying last year, and that this harassment led him to change schools, responded Laurent Boyet, founder of the association Les Papillons, at the microphone of Lucie Bouteloup, who recalls: " It is difficult to make society aware that bullying is a scourge that affects one million children out of the twelve million children who are in school, and it is a scourge that, in the end, kills our children.


The minister's attitude was welcomed by victims' associations. "We feel in Gabriel Attal a real will since he still spoke about the problem of school bullying outside the news, Gabriel Attal has always talked about bullying since he took office, so we have this feeling that he has a real desire to do something to fight against this scourge, and we simply hope that our disappointments will not live up to our hopes precisely, said Laurent Boyet. So we wait , we wait for what he will announce to us.



The fact that he spoke, that he called the family, for me, it is a strong sign anyway, also greeted Nora Fraisse, founder of the association Marion la main tendue. Afterwards, we need to know how we will be able to support families and students a little more, and have additional means so that this does not happen again. Because we really have more and more reports of families who are distraught about the harassment that is rampant, unfortunately from an early age in our institutions. So I hope that the plan will announce human resources, financial means, really commensurate with this million children who suffer every year. Families must have appropriate and rapid responses, and justice must follow.


See also DEBATE OF THE DAY How to fight against bullying?

Since this summer, new measures have been taken to combat bullying. According to a decree published in mid-August, a student responsible for bullying can now be transferred to another school, avoiding imposing this change on the victim. It is also planned to be able to punish a perpetrator of cyberbullying against a student of another school. Gabriel Attal has already said he wants "zero tolerance against all forms of harassment".

From this fall, a referent on harassment "in each establishment" must be created. Schools will also have to "systematically" report cases of harassment to prosecutors.

The Phare anti-bullying program, set up in 2019 and tested for two years in six academies, was generalized at the start of the 2022 school year in all schools and colleges. According to the Ministry of Education, 91% of colleges and 64% of schools are now enrolled in this system.

Brigitte Macron will visit the family of the teenager on Thursday, government spokesman Olivier Véran an.


And with AFP)

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