Vincent and Stéphanie have a garden, like others have a loudspeaker.
They tell their stories there, tinker with decorations for the upcoming holidays.
"Welcome home," smiles a wooden sign, while another warns that the watchdog is coming to the gate "in 3 seconds."
For ten days, their family story has been filled with pain.
Vincent posted it on the front door, in this design recognizable by everyone, since the attacks of 2015. White capital letters, black background: "I am Chanel".
Thursday, September 30, this neighborhood child committed suicide on returning from college, located 50 m from Vincent and Stéphanie. She hanged herself on the rope of her swing outside. The firefighters, the Samu rushed, the chopper landed as close as possible, on a building site, in vain. From dusk, the news threw on Frévent (Pas-de-Calais), 3,600 inhabitants, an icy veil. The good pupil with round cheeks, smiling and reserved, whom one saw walking the dogs of her sisters, or with her friends at the city stadium near the swimming pool, had ended her days at the age of 12 years.
“On Friday morning at college, there was crying, a lot of children went home, it was hard,” says a mother.
The emotion pushed hundreds of residents, on the morning of October 6, to parade in procession behind the older sisters of Chanel, Lindsay and Crystal.
The television cameras filmed the white march, and the row of terraced houses, where silence is not often disturbed.
She "came home sad from school" almost every day
The two spinning mills and the chicory factory have long quit smoking in this country town. The working memory is almost erased and those who remain “all know each other”. Children often follow each other from Saint-Exupéry primary school to Pierre-Cuallacci college, named after a former mayor of the town. The two buildings look at each other, separated by an alley where parents and grandparents wait, with bells ringing at 11:30 am and 4:30 pm. Among them, many rub shoulders with at least one member of the Chanel family, a “history” of the region, numerous and recomposed.
According to the rectorate of Lille, "no incident" was reported from this "ordinary" college, classified as a priority education network because the poverty rate exceeds 30%. The investigation by the gendarmerie has not yet delivered its conclusions. But from the funeral, a word would run from lip to lip, and in red marker on t-shirts: "No to bullying." “Things have to move, all this nastiness has to stop !!! Students, parents ... Please protect our children together. Share a lot, thank you for your support, ”wrote Lindsay on October 3 on Facebook. And again, before the walk: “Come in large numbers to pay tribute to my little sister and also to protect our children !!! All together, please, this must stop… ”
On Thursday, September 30, Chanel, 12, had ended her days, returning from college.
Recently, it is his schoolbag, a model considered too childish, which served as a target for evil tongues.
At the town hall, Jean-François Théret, elected since 2008, confirms what is being said in the city.
Chanel was mocked "on social networks", probably since adolescence had rounded her figure, at the end of elementary school.
The young girl who had "badly accepted" the separation of her parents collected good grades but "came home sad from school" almost every day.
Recently, according to the testimonies of his sisters during the white march, it is his schoolbag, a model considered too childish, which served as a target for evil tongues.
“We don't know why she got there.
She didn't leave a note "
“Between kids, nobody gives each other a gift, but from there to talking about harassment… We don't know why it has come to this. She did not leave a note, ”confides the mayor, in a hurry to put the drama away in the drawer of the mysteries of existence. In his youth, this former farmer already experienced the suicide of a classmate. “We never knew the why. "
In the district of the college, Vincent barely returns.
His morning of work at the Carrefour supermarket weighs on his shoulders.
“We must give the gendarmes time to do their investigation, of course.
But not too much time anyway.
He points to the “no harassment” t-shirt he wore like so many others on the day of the walk, with a gesture suspended towards the living room.
“It shouldn't all go down the drain.
Beside him, his wife, Stéphanie, envelops him with a sorry look.
“It will fall apart.
As it fell for us.
Vincent and Stéphanie are parents of students.
Their son made a suicide attempt two years ago in the grounds of the Pierre-Cuallacci college where Chanel was educated.
LP / Christel Brigaudeau
If the couple are so moved, it's because they think Chanel's fate could have been that of their child. Quentin, their second son, swallowed a blister pack of medicines against stomach aches, stuck in a schoolmate's satchel, when he was in 4th grade at Cuallacci College, in June 2019, under the direction of the previous principal. The report from the pediatric ward at Arras hospital sums up: “A cry for help more than a real suicide attempt. Confirms the situation of school bullying for four months. Wants to protect his parents. (…) No suffering at home but at school significant suffering. "
"He only told us at the hospital that a boy was on his back all the time, at school and outside," Vincent and Stéphanie recount.
He would take his chair out of his seat when he sat down, kick him in the yard, steal things from his kit… We hadn't seen a thing.
The family complained to the gendarmes.
"The boy was excluded one day, his parents took him out of college the following year and that's it", regrets Vincent, who would like the prevention of harassment "to be much more important".
"I took medication because I didn't want to be there anymore"
On Thursday September 16, two weeks before Chanel took action, Julie (
the first name has been changed
), a third year student, also swallowed, in the canteen, a packet of medicines - Doliprane taken in the morning in the family bathroom. A student saw her swallow the white pills and sounded the alarm. Since that day, Julie has been called regularly by VigilanS, a hospital program that watches over fragile people for six months after their suicide attempt. The teenager links her discomfort to the "violence" of the difficult separation from her parents, and to the "school harassment" she says she is subjected to by two girls in her class.
“They are very mean to me, they reject me, or yell at me until I cry.
It makes them laugh.
I took the drugs because I didn't want to be there anymore.
Between college and home… I couldn't take it anymore.
I cried every night.
Even since I got home from the hospital, the girls continue to piss me off.
the first name has been changed
), his mother, joined to her work, admits her distress.
“His teachers gave him a phone number to confide in, the girls have been summoned but I don't know what it will turn out to be.
"And sigh, as resigned:" Violence between children is in all colleges ... "
Here, in the cemetery of Frévent, Chanel's grave is covered with flowers.
LP / Sarah Alcalay
The outrage seems to have faded faster than the dozens of pots of white flowers that cover Chanel's grave in the communal cemetery. His family - whom we have approached many times - do not open to the press. She did not file a complaint, in addition to the investigation opened by the Arras prosecutor's office for "research into the causes of death". In town, anger is whispered now, as if stifled by a quilt.
At 4.30 p.m., the students cross the courtyard and disperse on foot, in the minivans or the school bus which serves the surrounding villages. Most received their first smartphone for entering 6th grade, and a large number signed up on social media inflating their age. In theory, you can only access TikTok, Facebook or Instagram from the age of 13, but no verification is done. Nor by platforms. Nor not the parents who let it happen, by monitoring, more or less closely.
"It's difficult, at home they are on wi-fi and we can't always be behind", explains Daniela (
the first name has been changed
), whose 11 and a half year old daughter was "insulted." 'last year on Snapchat', this network where messages are automatically deleted after reading.
"She has trouble fitting in, the others don't care about her physique," notes this nervous woman, who speaks with her hands.
His reaction ?
Grabbing her daughter's cell phone… to write herself to the teens who tormented her.
“I told them, being correct, that we just had to meet in front of the college to resolve the problem.
The threat had its small effect, she assures, without doubting the method used.
The word harassment prohibited from cited in college
When she goes to look for her daughter, Florence (
the first name has been changed
) moves less than a statue, at the wheel of her minivan. The word “harassment” barely makes her blink. We find her at home. In the cocoon of her pavilion, she lets her pain flow. Her youngest daughter, Jenny (
first name has been changed
), was in class at the end of primary with Chanel. “They were both annoyed, by a boy, who left Frévent now. For my daughter, it started in CE2. "She sees Jenny coming out of school" with strangulation marks on her neck, broken glasses, ripped clothes. It shocked me so much… ”
In September, Jenny returned to a college in another town, in a class adapted to her learning difficulties.
“She is better, but she remains very withdrawn.
And I am not doing well either, ”admits this large head of the family with dark circles.
She would have "so wanted the boy to be aware of his actions."
I did everything for it, but it didn't.
The Pierre-Cuallacci college in Frévent where Chanel was educated.
LP / Sarah Alcalay
If it is pronounced in front of the gates of the Pierre-Cuallacci college, the term “harassment” is not authorized to enter the enclosure. "The Arras prosecutor's office indicated that at this stage, there was nothing to support the thesis of school bullying," wrote the day after Chanel's funeral, the Lille rectorate, in a seven-line press release. . Students, who arrived on the Tuesday from the funeral with green armbands, the symbol of the fight against this scourge of the courtyards, were asked to remove them before settling into class. "It is the
which did not pass…", indicates Marie-Charlotte Baisez, the president of the Grouping of the parents of pupils (GPE).
His association is going through difficult times, cut in two between “the need to support families, as well as college.
The nursery assistant plunges her clear eyes into the wood of her dining table.
“We threw ourselves perhaps a little quickly on this idea of bullying at school.
Somehow we are all guilty of not having heard it, this little one.
She was not speaking.
The college has also fallen from the clouds.
And out of 300 students, there are not 300 harassers… I also pity these poor kids, this drama is the only thing they will remember from their years in the establishment.
“Those who do this are hiding.
There can be no proof ”
The principal, in post for two years in Frévent, has not spoken in front of the parents of the pupils since the tragedy.
At the Lille rectorate, our multiple requests for clarification have gone unheeded.
According to the representatives of the parents of the pupils, awareness raising on bullying has already been carried out in previous years.
But no business in recent years has been mentioned "to the board of directors, class councils, or disciplinary councils".
In Frévent (Pas-de-Calais) where little Chanel ended her life, Jimmy hung a banner on his balcony to prevent bullying at school.
LP / Sarah Alcalay
The senator (PS) of Pas-de-Calais, Sabine Van Heghe, has often seen the cover of "no wave" close on classrooms. For the past six months, she has chaired a parliamentary fact-finding mission on the subject. It ended on October 1 with 35 proposals, one of which suggests that harassment ceases to be counted among the college evaluation criteria. “Currently, an institution that reports problems is weighing down its ranking and this affects the careers of leaders and teachers. It does not help to free the word ", details the elected, who walked behind the family of Chanel on October 6 with her tricolor scarf. “Everyone still agrees that school bullying must stop, but it continues.Perhaps this is because this subject involves a responsibility that no one - parents, teachers or public authorities - is prepared to assume. In Frévent, Vincent, the father of four, wants to take his place in this fight. “If the Chanel family doesn't create an association, I will. "
In the town, the same determination answers Jimmy's intercom. This 19-year-old boy explains that he was harassed when he was a schoolboy in Pierre-Cuallacci, more than five years ago, because he is homosexual. “They ripped my clothes off in the gym, they put crushed cookies in my shoes, I was called a
. My parents didn't care, but my sister went to see the principal. He replied that there was no proof. "
His hands are shaking, possessed by the indignation of his 14 years.
“This is the principle of harassment!
Those who do this are hiding.
There can be no proof.
»His tinkered banner for the tribute to Chanel still slams on his balcony, above the kebab on the main street, as visible as if it were enthroned on the town hall.
The words stand out, white background, black letters: "Stop school bullying".