School harassment: what are the empathy courses that France would like to generalize in schools?

The Minister of National Education Gabriel Attal announced that he wanted to visit schools in the Nordic countries to learn from their method of combating school bullying upstream. In Finland and Denmark, empathy courses have been offered to students for years.

One of the avenues envisaged to fight against school harassment, a major subject for the 2023 school year, lies in “empathy courses” to allow “learning to respect others”. Invited on the M6 ​​set on September 12, 2023, the Minister of National Education Gabriel Attal announced that he would soon go to the Nordic countries where time is devoted to these prevention issues.

La méthode “Free from Bullying”

“Fri for Mobberi” – “Free from harassment” in French – is a method from Denmark, which has existed since 2005 for children aged 3 to 6. In this country, it is effective in more than 60% of nurseries, 62% of nursery schools and 45% of elementary schools.

Discussion boards, teddy bear…

These include educational discussions with students but also workshops and concrete tools such as discussion boards, details the Huffington Post. Margot Neuvialle, program coordinator at the Ligue de l’enseignement de Paris, explains to our colleagues at the Huffington Post that these are A3 format cardboard sheets with an image on the front, the drawing of an everyday situation – a child who hurts themselves, for example – and, on the back, suggested questions for professionals, “to work on living together at school”.

Another element of the kit: a “massage booklet”. The idea is not for the children to give each other massages but for them to have fun drawing with their fingers on the backs of their friends. In this exercise, emphasis is also placed on consent. The students ask if the friend can lend him his back. They then thank him in return at the end of the activity.

Already tested on a small scale in France

Other tools for these lessons intended for children aged 0 to 9: a teddy bear. Children can go to it when they are sad or give it to another child to bring comfort.

In France, this method from Denmark has been tested since the start of the 2022 school year in 18 nursery schools in the 18th arrondissement of Paris and Saint-Ouen-sur-Seine, specifies BFMTV. In 2023, it was also deployed in new schools in the 19th and 20th arrondissements of Paris, as well as in Eragny (95) and Montreuil (93), still in partnership with the two NGOs which manage the program in Denmark, underlines the Huffington Post. The desire of the Minister of National Education would be to generalize these “empathy courses” in French schools.

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