“Each year, between 800,000 and 1 million children are victims of bullying in schools in France.”
School bullying led to the suicide of a girl in France at the beginning of October, what sparked controversy in the country about this serious social scourge that French society suffers from and its effects on children, considering that this phenomenon is widely spread among school students.
The suicide of the little girl, Dina, also caused widespread resonance in France, the media intensified its coverage of the issue of school bullying from many aspects. It blames the lack of social awareness and the failure of the government policy followed by the country's authorities to address this phenomenon.
On October 24, more than a thousand people gathered in a white march in La Reunion Square in Mulhouse, northeastern France, to commemorate the death of Dina - a teenage girl of an Arab Muslim family in France, 14 years old - who would have turned 15 in December; but she decided to end her life on October 5 in her bedroom in Kingersheim in northeastern France.
During the gathering, her mother denounced, in particular, the negativity of the former school officials, where her daughter received her education, despite the numerous alerts they were informed by the family.
“Bullying must stop. For two years we have done everything we can to stop what my daughter has been through. They told me at her school that these were trivial matters between girlfriends. Nothing was done and our alerts were not taken seriously. The problem is at school. We will file a complaint against it,” Dina’s mother said.
The Attorney General's Office in Mulhouse announced that it had opened an investigation into the incident, because for her family, “the bullying that Dina suffered for two years in her school and on social media by her classmates because of her Arab origins that drove her to suicide.”
“Nothing is ever clear. It is a very young girl who committed suicide. She was harassed. The investigation must determine what prompted this young girl to commit suicide. No hypothesis can be privileged at the moment, even if we know that bullying in schools makes its victims extremely vulnerable,” according to Mulhouse's attorney general, Eduigi Roe Morizot.
Dina had been bullied by her French colleagues at Emile Zola College in Kingersheim, north of Mulhouse, according to the testimony of her brother, Ryan, to French media, who denounced the harassment of his sister.
“They also created a WhatsApp group with her and insulted her. One day, my mother took her phone to delete it; but they continued to abuse her through other social media applications,” Ryan said.
According to text messages her family found on their daughter's phone after her death, the teenage girl was harassed and insulted by her schoolmates, they called her a “dirty Arab,” according to what her family said.
Despite all the bullying the little girl was subjected to, she managed not to drop out of school, she also obtained a patent for her invention with honors, then she attended Lambert High School in Mulhouse which is different from the bully school.
Dina thought that she would never meet her bullies again until she met them in the dining hall, which was common among educational institutions in the city, where the girl of Arab origin received a new barrage of insults, abuse and humiliation to deteriorate her condition and then decided to end her life.
In March 2021, Dina made her first attempt to kill herself, but she survived, Dina's family denounced the school bullying that children are exposed to in France and the tragic incident on social media, her brother said in a newspaper interview: “They told her in previous messages: Next time, we hope that you will die.”
Serious Social Scourge
Observers see that bullying is a widespread social phenomenon in French schools, without the French politicians being able for many years to stop this phenomenon and raise the societal awareness of the population, which led to continued casualties as a result.
According to a French Senate report in September 2021, school bullying has led to the death of 18 children (without Dina) since the beginning of 2021, each year, between 800,000 and 1 million children are victims of bullying in schools in France, i.e., one out of every 10 students.
Several studies have also shown that bullying in France affects 10% of primary school students (6 to 11 years), 6% of middle school students (up to the age of 15), and 1.4 percent of secondary school students.
Valerie Pecresse, president of the Ile-de-France region said in a press report: “Bullying kills. School bullying kills. National awareness must be raised, what complicates the matter is that most of the victims never talked about being bullied.”
It is reported that on September 30, 2021, the 12-year-old girl, Chanel, was found committing suicide in her room, at that time, her mother revealed that the bullying and harassment that her daughter was subjected to at school was what led her to commit suicide.
On March 8, 2021, a 14-year-old girl named Alisha was killed by two schoolmates, after they violently beat her and then threw her into the Seine while she was still conscious.
In turn, Laurent Boyer, president and founder of the French association Les Papillons, said in an interview with Sputnik: “We must succeed in liberating the voices of the victims. It is the law of silence that allows aggressors to continue to harass their victims.”
On how to put an end to this scourge? Boyer says: “We have to succeed in breaking this grip and for the children to have the strength and courage to speak up, after that, parents should go see the school and the police.”
Boyer also notes the lack of a strong reaction from the French government, “We cannot be satisfied with hearing the warnings of the French Minister of National Education with every child who commits suicide. He must do more than warn us.”
It is noteworthy that the measures launched by the Ministry of Education in France since the beginning of the 2021 school year by launching the anti-bullying program in school (pHARe) throughout France, and after a two-year experience in 6 academies, the phenomenon is still widespread in French schools in abundance.
Bullying is a global phenomenon that countries are working to combat. The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) says that “one in ten children are subjected to bullying and that one in four of its victims contemplate suicide.”
UNICEF also says that harassment in schools takes the form of physical, verbal or sexual harassment. Bullying can take the form of stealing students' things. The challenge facing many teachers and parents of students is how to spot bullying in schools to prevent it from getting worse.
According to social researchers, bullying may have a permanent negative impact on the person who has been exposed to it, and it may last for life. Adolescents, especially children, have suffered from anxiety, depression, thoughts of suicide and self-loathing for years. In order to overcome these negative feelings, some of them may resort to self-harm, such as injuring themselves or pulling their hair in order to burn themselves.
On her part, social worker, Lina Ghanama, told the Migrant News website: “Many families, especially refugees or of Arab origin, do not monitor the conditions of their children in schools and do not know their rights either; Therefore, the incident of bullying or harassment may not be recorded in the first place, and the school may try to hide it.”
Research shows that exposure to bullying is associated with an increased risk of self-injurious behavior in adolescents.
One study conducted by researchers at King's College London found that children aged 5 to 12 who were repeatedly bullied were three times more likely to self-injure compared to children who were not bullied.
“Verywell Family” specialists recommend that parents who may suspect that their teenage children are self-harming talk to them and notice signs of self-harming behavior, they appear from frequent cuts, bruises, burns, scrapes, or scars, and eating irregularly.
A counselor can help the teens determine why they are self-harming, and also help them to discover why they want to change their behavior, and also identify other, healthier ways to deal with their feelings, In addition to addressing any mental health issues such as anxiety or depression.