Last Tuesday, a 15-year-old teenager killed himself in Poissy, after acts of harassment. A dramatic outcome that comes up too regularly in the news. But how can you detect harassment, protect your teenager and defend them? Justine Atlan, president of e-enfance answers us.
Four months after the suicide of Lindsay, a 13-year-old girl harassed at her school, a new tragedy is causing shock in France at the start of the school year. In the town of Poissy, Nicolas, 15, killed himself on Tuesday in his room by hanging himself with a pillowcase.
Harassment once again implicated in the death of a teenager
If the cause of his action is not officially established, it is nevertheless the avenue of school harassment which seems the most relevant today. “An investigation is underway, but the first elements that have been reported (to the ministry) by its services clearly attest that acts of harassment had been declared during the 2022-2023 school year.said Gabriel Attal, Minister of Education, on Wednesday.
“A meeting was organized in the establishment. There were reports of repeated bullying and insults from several named students” he pointed out. A handrail had also been placed and the high school student had changed establishments at the start of the school year. Measures which would not have been sufficient.
How do you spot a harassed teenager?
Despite the reports, the subject is sadly repeated month after month. But first of all, how to spot a harassed teenager. We asked Justine Atlan, president of e-enfant, the question.
“We can’t see everything, unfortunately. But this often leads to a change in behavior. A bullied teenager is no longer the happy teenager you know. If his results drop, if he suddenly finds it very difficult to be time at school, if he somatizes, loses his appetite, stops what he usually likes to do, or becomes aggressive when he was not, it’s an indicator that something is happening in his life (even if it’s not necessarily harassment), so you have to be attentive to it, ask him questions, and not stop at an initial denial. We must not lose sight of the fact that a bullied teenager will tend to keep his emotions to himself, which is why we do not always notice the problem. And by remaining silent, they also want to protect their parents, whose reaction they fear. When a child speaks to you, you have to roll up behind them and never let them go.”
How to react in the event of harassment?
Do you have strong suspicions about your child? This is an emergency for Justine Atlan.
On the child’s side: we reassure him
“We must immediately show him that we take this seriously, that it is serious and unacceptable and that from now on, we will not let him go, we will take charge of the subject and protect him.”
On the establishment side: we act in writing
You then have to go talk to the adults at school. “As parents, you are obliged to send your child to school, and you leave them with the protection of your child, so you must contact them in case of doubt of harassment. In this case, we act first and foremost in writing, by email to be sent to those in charge of the establishment, to force them to respond, then it keeps a written trace and dates things. We act in the same way when a meeting takes place, a summary of what happened said and we thank… by email”.
SIf the establishment does not take sufficient control of matters, we then go through the Academy and the harassment representative who exists in each department.
Where can you find support?
Beyond the establishment, the academy, and the harassment referent, there are national numbers 3020for school harassment, 3018 when it involves cyberharassment, which are national platforms, which will also act at the academic level, we must not hesitate.
“Then, there is the psychological care side, to be put in place for the child as well as for the parent who feels obliged to send their child into further violence. Free consultations exist in a good number of reception centers, adolescent consultations also in all departments, “youth listening” points… This is important even when the situation is resolved, because the repercussions can appear several months later. “
Should you change your child’s school?
The question is difficult because it brings into play a feeling of injustice. “But if the situation is totally unacceptable, you have to know how to act pragmatically. It is unfair that it is the bullied child who has to change schools. But you should also not keep your child at all costs in a place where he suffers in the name of law. We can be totally revolted, continue the proceedings, but act out of protection and say to ourselves ‘I’m changing schools, because he’s not safe’. Because the risk is also dropping out of school. You also have to think about your child’s mental health.”
Are we expecting new avenues against harassment?
As current events remind us, what has been put in place is not enough. A concern for the e-childhood president ”The work to raise awareness of the seriousness of the problem has borne fruit and there are in fact more and more parents and children who identify the problem. But establishments remain in a situation of denial and allow these situations to deteriorate, when there is a need for action very early. Training should be reviewed for all educational staff, so that they can quickly identify the problem, and have a precise protocol to follow, which lever to press and know their room for maneuver from start to finish. National education did not have this mission until now, it is not yet prepared.”
School bullying is the government’s priority this back to school
Bullying at school, which affects one in ten students, has been made a top government priority for the 2023-2024 school year. According to a decree published in mid-August, a student responsible for school bullying can now be transferred to another school, avoiding imposing this change on the person who is the victim. It is also planned to be able to sanction a perpetrator of cyberharassment against a student from another establishment. From this start of the school year, a representative on harassment “in each establishment” must be created. Schools must also report “systematically” cases of harassment to prosecutors. At the same time, a new interministerial response plan should be unveiled by the end of the month.