Four 13-year-old minors should soon be tried by the Épinal juvenile court for “
school harassment leading to the suicide
” of one of their classmates.
We are at a societal turning point with regard to school bullying
”, welcomes Hugo Martinez to
, president of the association against school bullying “
The Lucas suicide affair must establish in people's minds that these are serious facts
", he continues, "
and that harassment is prohibited by law
Since the entry into force of the new text of the law of March 2022 - which stipulates that school harassment constitutes a criminal offense - these facts can indeed be punished with 10 years in prison when the victim has been led to commit suicide.
This is the case of young Lucas, 13 years old.
On January 7, he took his own life.
He had been harassed for four months and a week because of his sexual orientation.
Four young teenagers, two boys and two girls aged 13, are implicated.
Read alsoSuicide of Lucas, 13 years old: “Harassment was the trigger”, according to his mother
An investigation was opened and established that "
the harassment could have participated in the passage to the suicidal act of the young Lucas
", indicated the public prosecutor of Épinal Frédéric Nahon.
Even if the college students "
only admitted to having repeatedly made fun of their comrade
", they were all summoned.
In view of the new law of March 2022, the question arises: do these 13-year-olds really risk 10 years in prison?
Or would these penalties simply be a powerful deterrent signal sent by the courts?
“It took dozens of tragedies for there to be awareness”
It would be a first.
Never before have such young children been so heavily sentenced for these facts, qualified as an "
" for less than a year by the law of March 2022.
However, many children died by suicide after being bullied.
Among the most emblematic cases, Marion Fraisse, 13, who committed suicide in 2013. She had left a letter recounting the harassment of which she considered herself a victim.
But, in 2018, an investigating judge from Évry dismissed the case, considering that these events, "
isolated and concerning different people not acting with the same intention
", could not characterize a situation of harassment.
A decision confirmed in January 2022 by the Court of Cassation.
In October 2021, after the suicide of the young Chanel, educated in 5th grade, an investigation had been opened for "
search for the causes of death
His relatives had gathered around his college with,
Stop school bullying
So many examples cited by Me Laure-Alice Bouvier, lawyer at the Paris Bar and specialist in school bullying, which show that, if precedents exist, the legal response has not always taken into account the specificity of bullying in the context of from school.
There have been many cases of children committing suicide after being bullied but never have children been arrested.
It took dozens of tragedies for there to be awareness of the gravity of the situation
, ”she reports.
We too often think that these are simple quarrels between children
”, is indignant for its part the Hugo association, “
whereas if the same thing happened between adults, we would not even ask the question
A sentence "for educational purposes"
The appearance before the judge of the children of these four teenagers from the Louis Armand college will take place behind closed doors.
If a presumption of discernment is established at the age of 13, certain exceptions exist.
Particularly because of their young age, these college students would therefore be more likely to receive awareness-raising or civic training courses, educational measures, a ban on going to certain places or rubbing shoulders with certain people, a reminder to the law, or even an obligation of care or therapeutic follow-up.
At the limit of works of general interest.
But no jail time.
Technically this sentence could be pronounced, but, in fact, the idea is more to propose a sentence for educational purposes
", explains Mr. Bouvier, pleading for the reintegration of these young people.
A child who begins his life with 10 years in prison is the risk of finding himself with a minor who would become a repeat offender unable to fit in.
The goal is not to punish and lock up, but to punish by educating, in order to prevent this from happening again
, ”she defends.
“This is a law which, in practice, applies rather to school staff”
Me Laure-Alice Bouvier
The brand new Penal Code of Juvenile Justice, which entered into force in September 2021, makes it possible in this sense to "
" these sanctions and avoid destroying any possibility of a future for these young people.
The prison box is really the last resort that the juvenile judge will have in the event of a repeat offence.
For the rest, he enjoys significant leeway
,” adds Hugo Martinez.
This new law against school bullying would therefore constitute a “
very strong penal arsenal
” but “
a little disconnected from practice
”, admits Me le Foyer de Costil.
However, according to the mother of young Lucas, "
harassment was the trigger
" for her son's gesture.
A point difficult to prove, the individual responsibility of each other being often diffuse in these group phenomena.
Especially when adults are also implicated, as is the case in the case of little Lucas.
Mr. Bouvier goes even further: “
in practice, this law on school harassment, in my opinion, applies more to school staff than to children
The establishment also condemned?
Because young teenagers are not the only ones on whom hangs a sword of Damocles.
Two separate investigations have been carried out: one looks at the facts and therefore the young potential perpetrators and the other, against X, is more interested in the responsibility or not of the establishment.
” was therefore opened against X for “
non-denunciation of ill-treatment of minors
”, specified the prosecutor.
This double investigation shows that Lucas' suicide is the result of a shared responsibility
", supports the Hugo association.
The new law of March 2022 indeed targets both the students and the establishment.
Members of the staff of the Louis Armand college in Golbey, where Lucas was educated, could therefore be sentenced.
Administrative case law accepts the condemnation of public establishments in the event of suicide as soon as the school staff is aware of the facts
”, confirms Me Bouvier.
In this case the establishment may be subject to disciplinary proceedings and, as this college is public, the State may also be condemned for misconduct
", specifies Me de Costil.
Read alsoLucas suicide: the parents had informed the school that their son was being harassed
The school's responsibility in this tragedy could all the more be called into question as Lucas' parents had warned the staff that their son was being bullied, which had been "
immediately taken seriously by the college teams
", says the rector.
Especially since the school had set up the “
” system (Programme to Combat Bullying at School).
A prevention plan where, in particular, some students can become ambassadors of the protocol and actively participate in resolving bullying problems.
Faced with the media repercussions that the suicide of this schoolboy experienced, the school wanted to react in an editorial, denouncing the “
spooky political and media turn
” taken by the affair of the young Lucas
The different teams, the college as a whole are undermined by the carelessness of some, posed as censors of the emotion aroused
", indignantly the establishment.
Unknown to justice, the four minors, presumed innocent, will for their part be the subject of an "
evaluation by the judicial protection of youth before their judgment