Dor several years, domestic violence has appeared to the general public for what it is: massive. It is now widely documented that these have deleterious repercussions for children. Published in January 2021, Camille Kouchner’s book The Big Family (Threshold) has meanwhile made it possible to break the taboo of incest: tongues were finally untied to tell the unspeakable.
However, despite significant legislative advances, each year, 165,000 children are victims of sexual assault or rape, half of them in the family home, according to an estimate resulting from several surveys carried out between 2008 and 2017: “Context of sexuality in France” (2008); National Observatory of Delinquency and Penal Responses (2012-2017); “A statistical approach to sexual harassment based on the Virage survey” (Ministry of the Interior, 2017).
These children are on average 10 years old, and nearly half of them subsequently attempt to end their lives. To this horror is added the chilling figure of the 400,000 children who currently live in a home where domestic violence is permanent.
Lasting psychotraumatic suffering
In April 2022, the President of the Republic undertook to make child protection one of the priorities of his new five-year term. On November 21, at the end of the week dedicated to children’s rights, the government organized its first interministerial committee for children. The first stated objective, the fight against violence against children, must not remain a dead letter.
Victor Hugo, in his philosophical prose (1860-1865), said in his time that he “there is no violence without a future”. All the testimonies confirm it: violence suffered in childhood or exposure to violence creates lasting physical and psychotraumatic suffering.
To protect thousands of children, it is at the source of exposure to violence that we must go back. However, currently, if a parent is accused of violence against his spouse or sexual violence against his child, he benefits from the presumption of innocence and retains his rights of visitation and accommodation. Staying in the family environment then reinforces the perpetuation of violence.
It is up to the legislator to act
As criminal proceedings can stretch over several years, it is unthinkable that the law should remain as it is. The responsibility should obviously not weigh on a child, whatever his age. It is up to the legislator to act. Parental authority is certainly an essential principle of our law, but, as indicated by the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, “in all decisions concerning children (…), the best interests of the child must be a primary consideration”.
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