Facilitated by the use of smartphones, school bullying affects nearly one in ten students in France.
SCHOOL HARASSMENT – The fight against school bullying received a serious boost during the week with the presentation, Wednesday, September 27, by Élisabeth Borne of an interministerial plan “against bullying at school and in all places where the child lives. Empathy courses, exclusion from social networks… This plan contains measures taken in consultation between several ministries, including that of Education by Gabriel Attal, and Justice by Éric Dupond-Moretti.
Among them, one was able to question many: the executive proposes the “ systematic seizure of the cell phone » in the most serious cases of school harassment, which may be accompanied by online harassment perpetrated by students.
The announcement of this new measure raises several questions regarding its implementation in practice, while currently, the 2022 law on school harassment, who created a crime in this matter, already paves the way for such confiscation of material. HuffPost takes stock of the conditions of application of these confiscations.
· Systematic confiscation, but when?
Élisabeth Borne announced that the prosecutor would be “systematically” grasped “ in the event of a report of harassment [scolaire]in particular thanks to a dedicated platform between National Education and justice”.
The Minister of Justice, Éric Dupond-Moretti, detailed the gradation of criminal sanctions in the event of convictions: for the most serious acts, “ systematic seizure of the mobile phone » can be decided.
Which means that as long as a complaint is not filed by parents of students or a report is not made on said government platform by an establishment, no investigation can be opened. And therefore, no smartphone that could have been used to carry out online attacks against students can be seized.
Until now, article 12 of the 2022 law on school harassment indicates that the phone can be seized “during the investigation or investigation (…) under the conditions provided for in the code of criminal procedure “. In practice, this results in confiscation when the student is presented before the children’s judge.
But this legislation is clearly “ underexploited » according to Carole Zerbib, principal at Lycée Vauquelin in Paris and member of the executive of the SNPDEN UNSA union. Especially since confiscation does not necessarily end the problem: “ You just need to use other devices, other accounts, or simply have accomplices. Harassment does not only happen through cell phones, on the contrary “.
· Who to confiscate a student’s phone?
On this subject, Carole Zerbib confirms HuffPost that ” it is not up to the director of the establishment to confiscate a telephone “, And ” even less to teachers » to confiscate smartphones for acts of harassment, even if the government has announced its intention to go further in this area.
“ This is not our role, it is rather the role of the police “, she assures, while confiding that it would be ” complicated to ask us to keep objects of such value. It’s not as simple as a bag of marbles or a pen”. Not to mention the risks of loss or theft after confiscation.
It is therefore neither the teachers nor the management staff of the establishment who will have to carry out such confiscation. As part of a procedure opened for harassment, this falls to the police, the only authority competent to carry out a seizure.
· How to enter the smartphone?
Once the investigation is opened, two options are available to the police to recover the object used to harass, as RMC explains. The first consists of summoning the harassing student to the police station. This is when the phone may be confiscated, searched and placed under seal during the investigation. “Summoning the family and the offending student to return the object seems to me to be the most appropriate method”comments the principal of Lycée Vauquelin.
The second option consists of searching the home of the harassing student. Once the investigation is complete, authorities will still be able to keep the phone until the court verdict. The seizure of the phone may then be extended by the courts, or even be definitively confiscated for the most serious cases. “If it was used to commit acts of harassment, final confiscation will be decided by the juvenile court”said Éric Dupond-Moretti on Wednesday.
But without being fundamentally opposed to this measure, Carole Zerbib nevertheless prefers “ explore the avenue of banning access to social networks » for harassing students. Another measure mentioned by the Prime Minister on Wednesday, but suspended from Parliament’s decision on the bill to regulate and secure the digital space. A text which provides for a new additional penalty of “banishment” of a network during a conviction for cyberstalking.
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