A new plan to tackle bullying in schools in France is to be launched.
It comes after the suicide in September of a boy named Nicolas, aged 15, which thrust the issue into the media.
His parents had raised the problems with the school and local authorities, but they claim the case was not taken seriously enough nor dealt with appropriately. In a letter, the Versailles authorities asked the parents to “adopt a respectful and constructive attitude” and described the bullying as “supposed”.
After Nicolas died, National Education Minister Gabriel Attal said that an “electroshock” was needed to shake up the system. He denounced the letter sent by the Versailles authorities to Nicolas’ parents as “shameful”.
Image: Léon Xu / French government data
The new measures were announced by Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne will include:
- Questionnaires designed to detect bullying discreetly. They will be evaluated through an automated algorithm to act as an early detection system.
- A new dedicated phone number to help victims find support
- Empathy classes - based on a Danish experiment - to help reduce bullying from happening
School authorities will also have the power to force bullies to move schools, ban them from social media, seize their phones, and involve prosecutors.
One in ten pupils in France is thought to be affected by bullying. Mr Attal said that it was an “absolute priority” to implement the plan in schools.
After Nicolas died last month, Mr Attal said: “We are still not up to the task. Put yourself in the shoes of Nicolas' parents, who wrote to the institution whose absolute role is to protect pupils, to inform it of the distress experienced by their child, and who received this kind of reply.”