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What do the “empathy courses” mentioned by Gabriel Attal consist of?

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Martin Lange, edited by Laura Laplaud / Photo credits: AFP
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11:13 a.m., September 22, 2023

To combat the scourge of school bullying, the Minister of National Education, Gabriel Attal, announced that he was considering “empathy courses”, which have already been in place for around fifteen years in Denmark. Since last year, 18 nursery schools in Ile-de-France have been experimenting with this method. Europe 1 went to the Labori school, in the 18th arrondissement of Paris to better understand what this actually involves.

Should we generalize “empathy courses” in schools in the face of harassment? After the death of Nicolas, 15, in Poissy on September 5, the Minister of National Education Gabriel Attal is looking for solutions to stem this scourge and is traveling this Friday to Denmark where these courses, called “Fri For Mobberi”, literally freed from harassment, have already existed for around fifteen years. In Ile-de-France, 18 nursery schools have been experimenting with this method for a year. Europe 1 went to the Labori nursery school, in the 18th arrondissement of Paris.

“It’s easier to laugh and make fun with the leader friend”

“Did you ask her permission to touch her t-shirt and her body?” 10 large section children sit in a circle around the teacher. On the program, the subject of consent: knowing how to say no or even behaving like a good friend. “Do you have a good friend in the class?” asks the teacher.

The good friend in question is a soft toy, supplied in a suitcase with a whole bunch of turnkey exercises, like this image representing a group of children. “What’s going on in this picture? Do you think this little boy is making fun of the little girl who is sad? And how can we do that?” she questions.

“The idea is to prevent harassment”

According to trainer Sarah Joubrel Merahi, “daring to say no is not easy”. “It’s easier to laugh and make fun with the leading buddy,” she admits. For a year, this method has been used in schools, compared to around fifteen years in Denmark where the results speak for themselves. “70% of professionals find that children are more caring towards each other after starting the program. The idea is not to treat bullying, it is to prevent it and ensure that it’s not happening,” explains Margot Neuvialle, program coordinator.

This year, the experiment was extended to around thirty nursery schools.

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