1 December 2023

Pap Ndiaye wants to strengthen the fight against school bullying, especially in primary school. The Minister of National Education thus announced, Thursday, April 13, in a press release, his intention to modify the education code so that in elementary school, when “the bullying child poses a serious threat to the safety or health of other students”the latter may be assigned to another establishment without the agreement of the legal representatives being necessary.

The tenant of Rue de Grenelle explained this decision on Tuesday on RTL, recalling that disciplinary councils did not exist before college. “In the case where it is necessary to separate the harassing pupil from the harassed pupil, we arrive at a situation which is not normal, by which it is the harassed pupil who must leave”he had declared, thus taking up one of the measures carried by a bill from the senator (Saône-et-Loire) of the Republicans, Marie Mercier.

The phenomenon is very difficult to measure in the lower classes, but the statistical service of the ministry estimated, in 2015, that 700,000 pupils were victims of bullying in France (5.8%), including 4% of primary school pupils, 12% of those in middle school and 2% to 3% in high school. In 2011, UNICEF rather estimated the share of young child victims at more than 10%.

Read the testimonials (2021): Article reserved for our subscribers “I’m afraid to go back”: the dark daily life of students who are victims of school bullying

Allow a contradictory exchange

Exclusions can now be decided on an exceptional basis by the academic directors of the national education services, who must then ask the mayor to re-enroll the child concerned in another school in the same municipality. If the pupil must be educated in another city, the agreement of the legal representatives is required, as well as that of the municipalities of residence and host.

The ministry, however, plans a response in several stages. If a first phase of conciliation with the student, the educational team and the legal representatives does not resolve the situation of harassment, Rue de Grenelle would like a “departmental team” intervenes in the school, in connection with the psychologists of the national education and the personnel of health. The change of school, which will require the agreement of the mayor, should only be done as a last resort.

Within the educational community, there is recognition of the need to avoid “double jeopardy” to a child who is the victim of bullying by forcing him to leave school for lack of a solution. But the eviction of the perpetrators is also problematic, all the more so when it comes to children aged 6 to 11 years. The parent-teacher associations underline, in particular, the need to think about the procedure to allow a contradictory exchange – as is the case in the disciplinary councils – and for the families to appeal the decision.

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