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School bullies can be sentenced to 10 years in prison under a new law in France

School bullies can be sentenced to 10 years in prison under a new law in France

Bullying at school will become a criminal offense in France punishable by up to ten years in prison.

The French parliament voted on the new legislation after several tragic cases of bullying became the talk of the town in recent years.

The new law, backed by a majority of President Emmanuel Macron's ruling coalition, applies to children and adults in schools and universities. He carries a maximum sentence of three years in prison and a fine of up to € 45,000 (38 38,300).

If the victim commits suicide, the sentence can be increased to ten years with a fine of up to 150,000 euros.

Bullying is believed to affect 700,000 French schoolchildren each year.

In October, a 14-year-old girl from the Alsace region killed herself after being bullied by classmates for being gay. In December 2020, a trans teenager, identified only as Fouad, died of suicide after being allegedly "humiliated" by school staff, who told her that the decision to wear a skirt was bothering other students.

The nature of bullying has changed, with perpetrators using cell phones and social networks to humiliate their victims outside of school hours as well as during school.

Erwan Balanant, the British MP from the centrist MoDem (Democratic Movement) party who drafted the legislation, said the law was created to send a "shock wave" to society about the importance of tackling bullying.

"It is not about sending children to prison," he said. "There is a juvenile justice system that takes into account the age of the accused and his or her distinguishing abilities." But laws can define "a society's value system," he said.

Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer, who backed the legislation, said it was "a way to implement the values ??of the republic".

"We will never allow our children's lives to be ruined," he said.