French PM's plan to tackle violence against children met with luke-warm response

NOV 21, 2023 LISTEN

French Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne has announced a series of measures to tackle violence against children, including additional specialised investigators and a financial boost for children who leave the welfare system at 18.

However, several child protection agencies are concerned that the government has not understood the urgency of the situation.

"For this International Children's Rights Day, the message that I want to send is that wherever improvements are possible, we must continue to act," Borne said, referring to the international day marked by the United Nations on Monday.

The Prime Minister was attending the third Interministerial Committee on Childhood (CIE), in the company of Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin and the Secretary of State for Children Charlotte Caubel.

"We have to really feel like we're dealing a blow and stopping the reproduction of violence," Caubel said during the visit of the Central Office for Minors (Ofmin) in Nanterre (Hauts-de-Seine), north of Paris.

Eleven members of the government were invited to the third meeting of the CIE, a consultative body set up in November 2022.

More specialised jobs

The new 2023-2027 plan against violence includes around twenty measures.

Ofmin, created during a previous CIE and set up in September, will see its staff increase from 37 to 85 investigators within two years, beyond the initial objective.

Borne also announced new job openings for child helplines, such as number 119, and for the Signal Sport unit, which operates against violence in this sector.

She also announced the appointment of ten departmental child protection delegates who would answer to police prefects. 

The plan against violence provides for the creation of a pediatric unit per court jurisdiction, an interministerial training plan and an annual communication campaign.

In 2024, it will focus on violence against children in sport.

Borne also reiterated her support for the "Protected Schooling" system introduced by Education Minister Gabriel Attal, which includes the appointment of referents and systematic educational interviews at 15 and 17 years of age for the children concerned.

The Prime Minister also announced an automatic  "financial boost" of €1,500 for young people leaving the child welfare system, when they turn 18. The "young autonomy pack" will include mentoring actions and a majority ceremony.

No real funding

While L'Enfant Bleu association in the suburb of Issy-les-Moulineaux, which Borne visited yesterday, gave a rather favorable reception to the measures, others are less enthusiastic.

President of the association La Voix de l'Enfant, Martine Brousse spoke of "disappointment" about the plan.

"Instead of having a global view of the suffering child, we have announcements of things already done, there is almost nothing new," she told French press.

"Children need an emergency plan, not a communication plan," the Collectif enfantiste (Child Collective) group added.

Former foster child and former member of the National Child Protection Council, Lyes Louffok told French news agency AFP that Borne's announcements were a "pile of measures without real funding".

On Monday, Borne also expressed her appreciation of the work done by the Ciivise, the commission responsible for combatting incest which submitted its report on Friday with 82 recommendations.

In an interview with Sunday weekly Le Journal Du Dimanche, Charlotte Caubel said that the Commission would continue to exist with "a new road map", addressing concerns of victims groups about the sustainability of the organisation. 

(with AFP)