“Mr. President, the school alone cannot bear the suffering of vulnerable children”

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This column appears in “Le Monde de l’éducation”. If you subscribe to Le Monde, you can subscribe to this weekly letter by following this link.

Mr. President, during the inter-round debate in April 2022, you affirmed that child protection would be at the heart of your second term. Today there is urgency.

Emergency for thousands of children in our country who are not only no longer protected, but are sometimes in danger. Some need psychic care or adapted structures. Others need to be protected from a deleterious family environment.

We, school professionals, come into contact every day with these children whose difficulties we know and whom we are too often unable to help. They are bad and let us know. For several years, we have seen a deterioration in the means available to meet the basic needs of these vulnerable children.

However, we cannot and do not want to resign ourselves. So, at school, we try to tinker with aids, the educational teams show inventiveness and flexibility, but we reach our limits. Teachers themselves are increasingly in pain because of their inability to help these children who sometimes violently express their unease.

Also read the column: Article reserved for our subscribers Child protection: “We are reduced to being helpless observers of the endangerment of both the minor and our services”

We lack caregivers. Our child psychiatry is at the end of its tether. Do we protect our children in France when it takes months before being able to meet a child psychiatrist or years before benefiting from a care service? We are running out of places for children who can no longer stay in school.

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Do we protect our children when some wait more than five years for a place in a medical-educational establishment? Can we speak of inclusion when a child spends more time out of class with his AESH than in class, because school becomes a suffering for him? Is it normal that parents have to stop working to take care of their child while waiting for a place to become available somewhere?

We lack foster families, places in homes and trained educators. Do we protect our children when the lack of reception facilities prevents them from being sheltered? What should we say to these children who have confided in us, to whom we have assured that speaking would allow them to be protected? Tell us how to look them in the face, these children whom we know are in danger and for whom nothing, or very little, is happening.

Read also the tribune (2021): Article reserved for our subscribers “Faced with the rise in psychiatric disorders in children, developing a prevention policy is a priority”

The situation is serious. The school alone cannot bear the suffering of all these children. It must be able to work in partnership with care structures and child protection services with the means. So we ask you to keep your commitment. You are right, childhood must be at the heart of our concerns. This is why, beyond texts and laws, human and material resources must be deployed.

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