Victim of harassment, young Nicolas, aged 15, committed suicide in Poissy (Yvelines) on September 5, just after returning to school. A letter, sent on May 4 by the “Versailles pole” of the interacademic legal affairs service to Nicolas’s parents, has just been revealed and created controversy. How is it possible that harassment is denied by the rectorate? TipsForWomens gives the floor to Catherine Jacquet, vice-president of the Marion La Main Tendue association, which helps victims of school bullying.
“We were outraged. We were now seen as guilty. It was too much. From that moment on, Nicolas was never the same. It was so rude and above all unfair“. These words were spoken in an interview with the Journal du Dimanche by Béatrice Le Blay, the mother of Nicolas, who committed suicide on September 5 when he had just entered second grade in an establishment in Paris.
A letter that creates controversy
The young man, victim of school harassment, was not supported by the rectorate. In any case, this is what the letter sent to the young boy’s parents on May 4 by the “Versailles pole” of the interacademic legal affairs service suggests.
In this letter, the administration is surprised by the tone used by the family, regarding the “supposed harassment” suffered by their son, towards the principal of the Adrienne-Bolland high school in Poissy, where he was enrolled in 3rd prep. professional. “The comments you made and the behavior you showed towards national education personnel, whose professionalism and integrity should not have been called into question in this way, are unacceptable. I condemn them in the strongest possible terms.” can we read.
The rectorate also notifies Nicolas’s parents of article 226-10 of the penal code, which condemns slanderous denunciation and provides, for this offense, a penalty of five years’ imprisonment and a fine of 45,000 euros.
“This mail is a shame”
Faced with the outcry over these revelations, the Minister of National Education, Gabriel Attal, was quick to speak out. “This mail is a shame” for the minister, speaking during a press briefing organized on Saturday September 16. “Put yourself in the place of Nicolas’s parents who wrote to the institution – whose absolute role is to protect students – to inform them of the distress experienced by their child, and who received this type of response!“The Minister of National Education recalled that he had launched, “the day after the tragedy”, an administrative investigation in addition to the judicial investigation opened by the Versailles public prosecutor’s office to investigate the causes of the death.
He made it clear that he would get “all conclusions, including on sanctions“. Today, Monday, September 18, the minister brings together all the academy rectors, to launch an audit in all the rectorates to take stock of the situation of school bullying in France.
“50% of children keep quiet about their bullying”
Questioned by TipsForWomens, Catherine Jacquet, vice-president of the Marion La Main Tendue association, which fights against school bullying, agrees with the minister’s comments. “This letter is a shame, it is unacceptable. We realize that all National Education staff are far from being trained in harassment issues.” she denounces straight away.
“There is also an inversion of responsibilities in this letter, it is very serious” she adds. “Nicolas’ parents were fortunate to know that their child was being harassed and to take steps to protect him, in vain. You should know that in 50% of cases, children keep quiet about their harassment. For Nicolas, this tragedy could have been avoided.”
A glaring lack of staff, to better supervise the children
For the vice-president of the association, the lack of staff and training around the issue of harassment, the absence of sanctions from online platforms and the lack of psycho-social teaching explain the current situation. “Classes are overcrowded, with teachers having too little time. There is on average one CPE for 300 students, nurses and school psychologists share several establishments… We are faced with an obvious lack of human resources, whereas we should put in place comprehensive health services with psychologists, child psychiatrists …And work hand in hand with establishments, families and associations” estimates Catherine Jacquet. To better enforce the PHARE program, a program to combat harassment, generalized to all educational establishments in 2023.
How do you know if your child is being bullied?
Interesting avenues of work, to change the situation, but which will take time. So how do you know if your child is potentially a victim of bullying and what can you do to help them?
“You must always talk to your child, take the time to talk with them, to understand the situation. We worry if he seems sad, if his school grades are declining, if he doesn’t really have any friends anymore and spends all his time on his phone.” indicates the vice-president of Marion La Main Tendue.
And what to do if the situation does not improve? “As a parent, we help our child to talk about it and we approach the school director, possibly the rectorate, if things don’t change. There are also associations like ours, to which parents can turn and a toll-free number, 3020, to contact directly to report harassment. Above all, we must not tell ourselves that Nicolas’s story will repeat itself and that we will not be heard, on the contrary. This case should not be made into a generality.” she concludes.