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Thursday, 27 January, 2000, 13:51 GMT
France tackles school violence

pupils Violence has led some schools to cancel classes

By Stephen Jessel in Paris

The French Education Minister, Claude Allègre, has announced a series of measures to try to halt a wave of violence in the nation's schools.

The issue has moved to the top of the political agenda after a series of incidents - some involving torture and attempted murder.

Thousands of extra staff will be taken on and the police presence near some schools reinforced.

Growing problem

Violence in schools has been a growing problem in France for some years and one set of measures was introduced in 1998.

Tackling violence
7,000 new staff
225 schools under police surveillance
New disciplinary measures and nationwide tariff of punishments
Counselling for violent students and courses on good behaviour
But the issue has acquired a new urgency in recent months.

In a technical high school in the east of France, it was disclosed that a 17-year-old had been systematically tortured for months by his classmates, who used to beat him, burn him with red hot piping and crush his hands in a vice.

In another incident, three pupils face charges of attempting to murder an 11-year-old boy who refused to do their Spanish homework for them.

Other incidents have included attacks on staff and an attempt to burn down a school.

Police surveillance

Although the authorities deny the problem has worsened over the last two years - except in the Paris region - the picture is bad enough for the series of new measures to be introduced.

Hundreds of schools are to be targeted, 7,000 ancillary staff will be recruited, 225 schools will be put under police surveillance, with 75 the object of special attention and the police given the authority to enter the premises to stop any trouble.

New disciplinary measures are to be put in place and a single nationwide tariff of punishments introduced.

Efforts will be made to counsel and help pupils with behaviour problems, by creating special classes for example, and courses in correct behaviour introduced from an early age

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See also:
08 Oct 99 |  Education
French students demand better schools
16 Oct 98 |  Education
French school protests set to intensify
15 Oct 98 |  Education
Violence flares as students protest

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