“Childhood is the priority of the five-year term,” reminded Elisabeth Borne this Monday, the day after International Children’s Rights Day. After a council of ministers on protected children, the prime minister organized the first inter-ministerial committee on children. The government has shown its willingness to protect children by announcing several measures.
A police station for minors
The main goal of the government is to fight violence against children. To this end, a central office to combat violence against children will be set up from January 2023. That agency, which will eventually consist of 70 agents, “will focus on child crime, online cyber detection, and physical and sexual violence.” said the government. A measure welcomed by Clémence Lisembard, operations manager of the Children’s Foundation: “By coordinating services, we work better, but it remains to be seen who the agents will be and what resources will be allocated”.
While 160,000 children are victims of sexual violence in France every year, the government also recalls its desire to implement the recommendations of the Independent Commission on Incest and Sexual Violence Against Children (CIIVISE), as announced by Emmanuel Macron in mid-September. In particular, the future legal inclusion of deprivation of parental authority in the event of a parent being convicted of incestuous sexual violence against their child is on the agenda. An “indispensable” measure, according to Matignon, whose implementation plan is still unclear.
Also on the agenda is the generalization of criminal record extracts for anyone working with children, including in sports, culture and youth.
The government also plans to launch a training plan for professionals and a listening platform to tackle underage prostitution, which affects 7,000 to 10,000 children each year. An important point for the Children’s Foundation, even if the priority remains “the use of sex education offers in schools”. “One of the ways to fight sexual violence and prostitution is to arm these young people, raise their awareness and give them answers to the questions they are asking themselves,” believes Clémence Lisembard.
Invest in the digital space
The Secretary of State for Children also reminds us: in France, one in five children has already been the victim of cyberbullying and two million minors consult pornographic websites. There is therefore “a real imperative to protect our children”. By early 2023, standard parental controls will apply to all new tablets and phones. At the same time, through the generalization of the digital pix pass in schools, university students are trained in how to use the Internet and are made aware of these possible dangers.
The government also hopes to quickly find a way to protect children from pornographic content by imposing online identity or majority checks.
Improving the health of the youngest
The government also wants to improve children’s well-being and health. Spring 2023 will host conferences on child health and pediatrics, with a particular focus on mental health. To reduce health inequalities, the government plans to introduce lunchtime toothbrushing for all children in kindergarten and primary school by 2024. The “find your course” experiment, which makes it possible to offer multidisciplinary management of overweight and obesity to children under 12, is generalized.
A public child care service
A consultation is also being launched to set up a public service for early childhood, while the sector is suffering from a serious shortage of staff. It will take the form of a National Early Childhood Refoundation Council, which will begin work in early December.