Harcèlement scolaire : le sénateur héraultais dénonce « le corporatisme et l’omerta » de l’Education nationale

Le sénateur socialiste Hussein Bourgi  a été membre de la mission parlementaire d‘information sur le harcèlement scolaire. Il est engagé depuis 25 ans sur le sujet.

Depuis combien de temps êtes-vous engagé(e) dans la lutte contre le harcèlement en milieu scolaire ?

25 years ago, I was already involved as an activist in the Montpellier Academy, working in schools to raise awareness about discrimination, stigma, racism, harassment, etc. And since its creation on May 26, 2001, I have been a member of the parliamentary mission for information on school bullying. We conducted hearings with all relevant stakeholders and made numerous visits.

What are your initial findings?

Today, school bullying is closely linked to cyberbullying. This means that with social media, there is no respite for the victims. They live in a constant state of stress, even when they are at home or on vacation, as they are bombarded with harassing messages posted on social media. That is why the information mission also heard from all the responsible individuals of social media platforms, to remind them of their responsibilities and emphasize that French legislation applies on French soil. We submitted a report in September 2021, but we continue to work on it as part of our ongoing efforts.

What does school bullying represent in France today?

When we did this work, we found that this scourge affects one in ten students in France. Because there are those who inform their parents or the educational community, and those who say nothing, who live in a form of suffering without us being able to help them. And then we realize that the national education system is not equipped to fight against school bullying. At times, the national education system made us think of the silent giant.

Systématiquement ?

Systématiquement. Lorsque l’on parlait de harcèlement scolaire, les gens que l’on rencontrait, membres de l’éducation nationale, étaient systématiquement sur la défensive, parlaient de cas marginaux, indiquaient que ce n’était pas aussi massif que ce que l’on imaginait, alors que, factuellement, on avait les preuves de ce que l’on avançait.

C’est un peu l’esprit de cette lettre du rectorat de Versailles…

Certainly. Today, the national education system is being influenced by public opinion. It only moves because there have been press articles, because there have been tragedies, because public opinion commands it. Parents expect the national education system to protect their children. However, for a very long time, it was in a posture according to the following triptych: first denial, then downplaying when blatant evidence of harassment is presented, and finally, when it has been established that it was indeed harassment, comes the evasion. It is systematic, yes.

The observation is very harsh…

The diagnosis is very harsh, the assessment is very severe. There have been failures, there have been mistreatments, solely because of negligence within the institution. The national education system today suffers from a systemic and cultural problem, as we consistently see two reflexes come into play whenever a problem is mentioned in a classroom or an institution: corporatism and silence. A school principal has no interest in admitting that there are issues within their institution. Hence, this unwritten rule: no waves.

What do you want to say to these school principals?

You are not responsible for everything. The educational community should not take all these societal problems upon themselves. It is not your fault if it happened in your institution. Because we see the problems of society emerging in the school, which is not watertight. So I say to the school leaders: do not have this taboo, this apprehension, this self-censorship. Address the problems. They need to be put on the table, rather than being found at fault in a few weeks or months for not having done so. Teachers have been trained to teach, not to handle this kind of situation, and they sometimes find themselves helpless when it comes to dealing with them. We recommend initial and ongoing training. Bullying in schools should be a major national cause.

Allez-vous également solliciter la rectrice de la région académique ?

Yes. A realization occurred at the highest level of the State. Gabriel Attal is the first Minister of Education to address this issue with the necessary seriousness. Two subjects were taboo in France: hazing, which Ségolène Royal at the time tackled head-on to ban this practice, and school harassment.

We hope that Gabriel Attal will bring about this cultural change in France. And in the letter I am going to send to the Academy’s rector, I will tell her that I am pleased that the pHARe prevention program has been implemented in the Academy. However, where we are lacking, in France and therefore in the Academy, is in the handling of reported cases. Especially when it comes to sanctions against the perpetrators. I will no longer tolerate the victims being the ones who are moved.

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