France: "surge of authority" to curb youth violence

Following several brutal acts of violence, French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal has announced a new action plan against youth crime. This "surge of authority" will involve greater severity and swifter punishment, as well as stepped up prevention and educational support. Parents who "neglect" their children are to be sanctioned, for example. Sensible, or action for action's sake?

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La Croix (FR) /

Support parents instead of punishing them

Parents must not be used as scapegoats, La Croix criticises:

“How can one hope that the stick, i.e. the threat of legal proceedings and parents being ostracised, will magically bring about such a major social change? ... We must seek and establish new forms of authority in schools, but elsewhere too, and we must all work together to negotiate and achieve this. ... This is a collective task aimed at enabling youths to be integrated into a coherent community. ... There is nothing to be gained by putting parents in a situation of weakness or blame. They are part of the educative community, and they need to be supported, encouraged, advised and helped much more than they need to be punished.”

Le Figaro (FR) /

School can't fix everything

Deputy headmistress and essayist Fatiha Boudjahlat counters in Le Figaro:

“There are failing parents who see themselves as their children's friends, let them use social networks from primary school onwards and are incapable of saying no or setting certain limits. ... We offer educational support, but the social services in the departments are overstreteched. ... Some parents are derelict in their duties, toxic or even dangerous. ... There is a widespread view that schools must do everything, fix everything. If they stay open until 6 pm in the evenings in the summer and during the school year, politicians and police officers are convinced that there will be fewer offences. But what are the pupils supposed to do? And under whose supervision?”

El País (ES) /

Don't rely on pseudo-solutions

Ill-advised populism, El País criticises:

“Gabriel Attal announced new, tougher penal measures against violent youths. ... But in addition to stressing this need to 'restore authority', he also made reference to restoring some of the ideals of the Republic, such as respect and civic responsibility. ... But civic principles alone will enough promote integration. ... What holds us together is solidarity and the elimination of precarious living conditions and social marginalisation. ... We need to reflect and not just be satisfied with abstract declarations or nationalist and populist pseudo-solutions.”