School, leisure, institutions … The prevention of sexual violence against minors is getting organized

If the report of the Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the Church revealed the considerable extent of this violence, it also confirmed – through the vast survey carried out by Inserm – that other institutions took in minors. were not spared.

→ READ. Sexual Abuse in the Church: What to Remember from the Sauvé Report

In recent years, the latter have tried to put in place safeguards and preventive measures. A first step, which calls for many others, to detect and further help the too many children who are victims of these abuses.

► National education

With 12.3 million children welcomed by 1.2 million teachers and supervisors, national education is the first sector concerned with the protection of minors. Twenty years ago, the ministry recorded only about twenty reports per year for sexual offenses committed by its agents in the public sector. In 2019, there were 52 reports. In private contract education which employs 140,000 teachers, 19 cases were reported in 2018. “Which proves that detection is improving”, wants to believe Édouard Geffray, director general of school education.

“The Villefontaine affair in 2015 was a tipping point”, he assures. The case of this teacher, then director of a school in Isère, suspected of having raped about sixty children and who committed suicide in detention, caused a scandal when it was discovered that he had already been convicted of possessing child pornography images.

→ MAINTENANCE. Najat Vallaud-Belkacem: “In national education, responses to sexual abuse have not always been up to the task”

Since then, links have been tightened between national education and justice, with a network of “referents” in the rectors and prosecution offices. The Villefontaine law of April 14, 2016 requires them to report to the national education system all proceedings initiated against its agents for sexual offenses, even committed in the private sphere.

In 2016, 1.120 million agents were screened through the B2 criminal record and the judicial file of perpetrators of sexual or violent offenses (Fijaisv), which made it possible to detect 38 cases, which remained under the radars of the ministry. On the other hand, “Mayors and local elected officials who recruit local officials working in schools make little use of the possibility of consulting the Fijais” via the prefect, notes a senatorial report from 2019 (1). They are satisfied with the B2 box, which is less complete.

Another big black spot: the detection, by the school, of child victims in other spheres, especially family. The lack of nurses and school doctors (a third of the posts are vacant) is the cause, while “Teachers themselves are often poor”, notes the Senate report.

For Édouard Durand, president of the Commission on sexual violence and incest, “National education has a major role to play. Around 160,000 minors are victims of sexual violence each year. However, only a thousand authors are convicted. It is essential to create spaces where children can speak with confidence. “

► Recreation centers, colonies and scout camps

All collective reception centers for minors are required to declare their workers, employees or volunteers, to the regional youth and sports directorates. Each year, these perform 1.5 million automated checks on their integrity (B2 record, Fijaisv, file of prohibitions to practice with minors). Unfortunately, the timeframe for these checks is not always compatible with recruitments that are sometimes carried out on an emergency basis.

According to the Senate report, several federations or holiday trip organizers were unaware in 2019 that they also had to declare administrative, kitchen, cleaning or transport agents. Between 2015 and 2018, 166 suspicions of sexual offenses had been transmitted to the ministry in charge of youth.

► Sport

In 2008, after denunciations of rape in tennis, a study revealed that 17% of athletes said they had been victims of sexual violence. A charter to prevent these abuses had been signed, without much effect. In 2019, the media coverage of new business led Minister Roxana Maracineanu to create a unit within the sports department to deal with all reports. At the beginning of September 2021, she had recorded 584 reports of violence, 90% sexual. “ We are not at the end of these disclosures », Warns Fabienne Bourdais, new ministerial delegate in charge of sexual violence in sport.

→ MAINTENANCE. Sébastien Boueilh: “The State has finally taken the measure of sexual assault”

Two conventions were held in February 2020, then April 2021 to encourage federations to get involved. Today, 45 out of 108 have a referent. About twenty developed a “Plan to prevent such violence”, about thirty work there. It will be mandatory to obtain the renewal of their delegation. Agreements have been signed with associations, such as Colossus with feet of clay or Ethics and Sport for preventive actions in clubs.

For supervision, the criminal records of the 150,000 sports educators holding a professional card are checked every year, “But the federations are sometimes content to ask for the diploma which does not imply such verification”, regrets Fabienne Bourdais. Important novelty of this new school year: the federations are required to declare their volunteers, ie 2 million people!

► Social assistance for children

In 2018, nearly 72,000 minors at risk were placed with a foster family and 56,000 in a child welfare establishment. This population is particularly vulnerable. André Altmeyer, Deputy Managing Director of Apprentis d’Auteuil, believes “That at least 30% of the young people accommodated in the foundation’s houses have been victims of sexual violence”. following a pedophilia case involving, in 2001, one of its former employees, it set up an alert unit, training courses and a systematic background check when recruiting.

Supported by Adrien Taquet, the child protection bill provides for such systematic checks on all professionals. “The shortage of educators and social workers is such that there are risks of less vigilance”, alert Michelle Meunier, senator (PS) of Loire-Atlantique. This bill also standardizes the procedure for reports by the departments, in order to prevent an educator suspended in one place from going to be hired in another. Ditto for approved family assistants, soon to be registered in a national file.

► Establishments welcoming disabled minors

The disabled, especially minors, are the most exposed to the risk of sexual violence (2). They sometimes find it difficult to verbalize them and the behavioral problems caused by these abuses are little detected. A survey of 238 autistic women in 2018 by Doctor David Gourion showed that 31% had been raped before the age of 9. “A 2003 Senate report already warned of this situation, but disabled victims are invisible”, protested Marie Rabatel, president of the Association of Autistic Women.

→ TRIBUNE. The fight against domestic violence against children must become a national priority

On July 5, a circular from the secretariat for people with disabilities reminded medico-social establishments welcoming the disabled that they must integrate the prevention and detection of sexual violence into their project and appoint a trained referent. The circular also provides for the creation in each region of a Resource Center to support disabled people in their private lives and their parenthood, on the model of that experienced in Île-de-France. She reminds school directors that they must consult the Fijaisv for any recruitment, via the regional health agency. “The problem is that there is such a turnover of staff, that they sometimes have to resort to temporary staff”, emphasizes Marie Rabatel.

In 2015, in Voiron, in Isère, 11 families lodged a complaint for rape of their children involving two educators, one of whom had just been imprisoned for possessing child pornography images – he was released from prison a few months later. “The children’s word was not believed by the courts, and the case was initially dismissed. Fortunately, the court of appeal ordered at the end of 2020 to reopen the case. The establishment did not even file a civil action with us ”, reports one of the parents.

While the case is ongoing, one of the educators was dismissed by a contractual rupture and worked for a time in a sports association … “We have been fighting against a wall for six years. If at least the work of the Sauvé commission could encourage society as a whole to hear more from child victims. ”


The figures for sexual violence

According to the Ciase report, sexual violence is a massive phenomenon: 14.5% of women and 6.4% of men, or about 5.5 million people, have suffered such violence during their minority, reveals the report of Ciase.

In addition to abuses committed in the family or friendly environment (3.7% of the adult population suffered aggression during their minority) and within the framework of the Church (1.16%), the spheres of socialization of children most concerned are: summer camps and camps (0.36% of the population); public school (0.34%); sports clubs (0.28%); cultural and artistic activities (0.17%).

→ VIDEO. Sexual abuse in the Church: Catholics in shock


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