What Happens Behind the Doors of Child Welfare Homes? Rape between children, beatings by overwhelmed educators … Several scandals have erupted in recent years, discrediting these social houses of a social nature (Mecs). Also, during the examination in first reading of the bill “protection of children”, Thursday July 8, the deputies voted several measures to increase the controls: systematic verification of the criminal records of the professionals, adoption by each establishment of a “Prevention policy”, but also the creation of a post of referent that the child can seize in the event of a problem, impromptu visiting rights granted to elected officials, and so on.
Will that be enough to lower the pressure? These measures are, in any case, “At the base of everything”, considers Marie-Laure de Guardia-Piquemal president of Gepso, which represents the managers of households. They are all the more necessary since, despite its name, child protection is, in reality, an intrinsically violent activity.
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“It is always difficult to separate a child from its parents. Sometimes this decision is not understood at all. We therefore welcome very angry young people who, for some, have always lived in a violent context and have no benchmarks ”, she explains.
“Young people forged in a climate of violence”
This observation is shared by a recent report from the National Institute for Demographic Studies (INED). In a large survey of former children in care, “Almost three quarters of those questioned spontaneously admitted that they engaged in serious and frequent acts of violence or were themselves victims of it when they were at home, explains Isabelle Lacroix, study coordinator. They also told us that they were not aware of the gravity of the facts at the time, because they were often forged, from an early age, in a climate of violence. “
Giving clear benchmarks to children placed in foster care is at the heart of a non-violent reception, also believes Marie-Laure of Guardia-Piquemal. In the home that she manages, in Perpignan, she carried out in-depth discussions with her teams which led to “On a very clear drop in the level of violence”, she explains. Drafting of regulations between educators and young people, general interest work at the household level in the event of non-compliance, but also support groups …
Understand the mechanisms
“However, the working conditions given to the teams and the quality of their training is essential. It is imperative to specify a reasonable supervision rate, and to hire qualified personnel ”, explains the director again. These are all measures that do not appear in the current bill, but must be specified in a forthcoming decree.
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In order to enable young people to better understand their rights and duties, the SOS Children’s Villages association has also been setting up, for two years, a vast educational project around the rights of the child. “For now, only educators have been trained, but this is already a game-changer. For example, when one of them is implicated, we are no longer just in a disciplinary sidelining pure and simple, but we conduct a transversal reflection to understand how he was able to get there ”, explains Sylvie Delcroix, “Child Protection” referent. The children will also be trained soon and made to think about what they can and cannot do.