Assassination of Samuel Paty: how a schoolboy found himself in the media without the authorization of his legal representatives

The 12-year-old teenager, whose testimony toured the web before he was invited to radio studios or television sets, is placed with child welfare.

His testimony, full of clairvoyance and astonishing maturity, had moved the internet to the point of being seen nearly three million times on social networks, the day after Samuel Paty’s beheading. This young student in sixth grade at the Collège du Bois d’Aulne in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine (Yvelines) quickly became a media phenomenon, invited to television and radio, and honored in the prestigious portrait of ” der “from Release. But the problem: at no time did the legal representatives of the 12-year-old boy, placed with child welfare, give permission to the media to broadcast his image. Explanations.

Saturday October 17, the day after the tragedy, the teenager participates in the rally in tribute to the murdered teacher organized in front of the school. Many media are present, several of them question him. “I cried, because it is very serious. It is very serious that we can be murdered while unveiling a caricature”, he said calmly in front of the camera of independent journalist Clément Lanot, who posted the video on his Twitter account.

After the shock and dread, the young boy’s words ring particularly true. “We must continue to learn, otherwise the terrorists will win (…) we must not give up, we have the right to speak, we have the right”, he declares in a touched but confident tone. The video then toured the web, and several news sites relayed it. BFMTV even buys the images and broadcasts them on the air. “The person accompanying the child did give us an authorization (filmed and recorded) to carry out the interview”, Clément Lanot indicates to franceinfo, without specifying the identity of the guide.

Sunday, the media coverage of the young man continues. This time he is invited on the set of “C Politique”, on France 5, alongside essayist Caroline Fourest, sociologist Bernard Rougier, and Sophie Mazet, teacher in Seine-Saint-Denis. Monday, finally, he is interviewed in the much listened to morning of France Inter, “accompanied by his tutor”, specifies Léa Salamé. The same day, Release publishes a portrait of the boy, met the day before on the sidelines of the rally organized at Place de la République, in Paris.

On social networks, some Internet users wonder if the overexposure of a young boy of 12, on such a sensitive subject, is really reasonable. But above all, doubts are beginning to emerge on the legal framework of this media marathon. “I must alert on the situation” of the child “with whom I am in contact and who called me this morning. You do not have all the information on the situation. Please stop the media machine immediately, let’s be responsible”, wrote in a tweet (since deleted) Lyes Louffok, former foster child and author of the book In the hell of homes (I read, 2016).

The schoolboy whose media are snapping up is a child placed under the responsibility of child welfare services since the age of 5. It has been housed since 2018 at the Children’s Home of a social nature (Mecs) in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, managed by the Latitutes 78 association, itself funded by the Yvelines department to carry out its care mission. The child, who was abused during his childhood, is the subject of psychiatric follow-up.

The media which gave the child a voice got the green light from two people around him: a Latitudes 78 service manager and the child’s child psychiatrist. Although very close to the teenager, neither of them had the legal right to take on this responsibility, the only people with parental authority being his mother (currently imprisoned) and the Yvelines department. .

According to information collected by France Télévisions, the child psychiatrist of Latitudes 78, who has been following the child since his arrival in the structure, had made a request for authorization to the services of the department during the weekend. Having suffered a refusal, he decided to override, which the Yvelines departmental council confirms in a press release published on Tuesday: “Not only were these two people never authorized to issue such an authorization [d’interview] but the association which employs them had also previously notified them of this lack of authorization. “

“We obviously have a doctor who has exceeded in every possible way his framework and legality. Our legal services are seized, we are in the process of establishing responsibilities, and obviously we reserve the right to initiate proceedings criminal “, tells France Televisions Sandra Lavantureux, director of Social Assistance for Children (ASE) in Yvelines.

When questioned, the child psychiatrist assumes to have pushed the child to speak in the media despite the lack of authorization. “I did not have this authorization and I must not have it. We have a support mission, which is obviously vague. But what we must do is education, seize all the opportunities to grow these children “, he declares, assuring, as a child psychiatrist, that the media coverage of this child “was a good opportunity”. “I supported this young person so that he could express himself and be recognized for his beautiful words. It greatly displeased the administration of the ASE”, the doctor continues.

On the side of the media having given the floor to the young boy, we plead good faith. “I thought in good faith that it was good, otherwise I would not have broadcast. As soon as I knew that this person was not authorized to give such permission, I deleted the images,” indicates Clément Lanot. The “C Politics” team also believed they had done the right thing. “We had the agreement of the lady who introduced herself as his guardian and who seemed to have a very strong bond with the boy, and that of the child psychiatrist who said she was in favor of his testimony”, says the editor of the France 5 program, Benjamin Oulahcene.

“From the moment these two people [employées de Latitudes 78] had given us their agreement, there was no need to go further “, abounds the director of information of France Inter, Catherine Nayl. She specifies that she asked that the child not be filmed (while the morning guests are always filmed), in order to protect his image.

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