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To Prevent Bullying in School: Should the Emphasis be on Prevention or are Prison or Fines also the Right Answer?

Are you as a parent aware of incidents of bullying at school. Do your children spend more and more time on social networks such as Instagram or TikTok or Facebook. Did you see in the US press recently that a Professor from a top University said he would prefer to give his children bottles of whisky or weed than organize an Instagram account for them! And he mentioned in particular how cruel girls can be to each other on social networks. 

Monaco’s Conseil National is getting on the top of this issue so that schools remain a sanctuary and children’s childhood is protected. Though not necessarily in Monaco, bullied children have been known to be driven to suicide or there have been cases of revenge porn when very intimate photos are published without permission. 

There are, of course, complex issues when the law takes on the subject. If there are stiff penalties, including very large fines or imprisonment for parents involved with culprits guilty of bullying …. what is the process of determining the proof of bullying – that a suicide for example was the direct cause of bullying or could it have been the result of other pressures. 

In any event Monaco’s Conseil National is taking the bull by the horns and has voted on a law that will impose both preventative measures and penalties for bullying. So parents – you need to be aware of this new law. If your child is a victim, a witness to bullying or a culprit you could well be involved in a procedure in school that is dictated by this new law. Get involved early in protecting and counselling your children about bullying and understanding your and their responsibilities in relation to their school and their activity on social platforms. 

It must have happened somewhere in the world that a child being cruel called another “fat” and then the victim feeling humiliated committed suicide. This is an extreme case perhaps but with so much time spent on social platforms incidents are going to multiply. 

Here is what is reported so far in the French press about the details of the new Monaco Law voted on by the Conseil National. 

Prevention

The law emphasizes the importance of prevention by learning fundamental social values ​​such as empathy, respect, tolerance and self-esteem. The law provides for the training, “at least once a year”, of all educational staff dealing with children in schools, who must also provide “information, training and education sessions on prevention among students “.

Schools, colleges and high schools will have to implement a plan to prevent and combat harassment and violence. This will make it possible to identify the reporting procedures, support and supervision measures for victims, perpetrators and witnesses of harassment and the educational measures to be put in place. 

While the Directorate of National Education, Youth and Sports will have to appoint a “representative for the prevention and the fight against harassment”, each establishment will also have to appoint one or more “referents in charge of prevention”. These people will have to undergo specific training in listening to child victims and in mediation. They will be bound by professional secrecy.

Penalties 

This law voted on by the Conseil National has strict penal provisions when it comes to extremes as serious as ‘revenge porn’ or incitement to suicide. 

Depending on the case (harassment, hazing, repeated malicious phone calls), penalties ranging from three months to two years in prison and from 9,000 euros to 90,000 euros in fines can be imposed. 

For the most serious situations, the penalties can go up to 5 years imprisonment in the case of incitement to suicide, or even 10 years imprisonment when the harassment is of a sexual nature (revenge porn, for example) and can also include fines of up to 180,000 euros.

Stéphane Valeri, President of the Conseil National has also called for action by the Government to allow the victims on the Internet to have the right to see the disappearance of comments attacking their dignity.

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