It is a cry of alarm on the situation of children in France.This is how Adeline Hazan, the president of UNICEF France , summarizes the contents of the shock report which will be unveiled in part this Sunday. In this text, the organization reviews everything that France has implemented since the last assessment of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in 2016. There have been undeniable advances, such as the law on child protection or the creation of a delegation to the Assembly, but that is not enoughwarns Adeline Hazan. The health, economic and environmental crises have increased the problems. The rights of the child must be a priority, as Emmanuel Macron had indicated. Today, this is not the case. »
If France has often been cited as an example for having kept schools open more than neighboring countries at the start of the pandemic , not all children go to school. Those with disabilities still have difficulty accessing it: 20% of referrals to the Defender of Rights point to this problem. The same goes for the 5,700 living in the slums. And in Guyana, only 92.6% of 6-13 year olds attend school.
France, which has more than 12 million students, is still a champion in terms of educational inequalities. Segregation remains strong: 10% of public colleges have more than 63% of students from disadvantaged backgrounds. And according to a national consultation conducted by UNICEF in 2021, one in ten children report being bullied often or from time to time. In addition, the government has not opened as many crèche places as planned (nearly 9,000 in October 2021 out of 30,000 promised for 2022).
With Covid, mental health of 6-18 year olds has deteriorated: a third say they suffer from psychological problems; a quarter of them often feel depressed or abandoned. Gold ” you have to wait six months to a year and a half to have an appointment in a medico-psychological center laments Adeline Hazan. The consequences are sometimes dramatic, leading to hospitalization of children or adolescents“. In terms of prevention, care is very variable: in 2019, annual expenditure per inhabitant for maternal and child protection varied from 1 to 300 euros depending on the department! And three out of four children breathe polluted air.
More than 42,000 homeless young people
In the seventh world power, a quarter of children live in poverty. “The State has indeed adopted an action plan to fight against poverty, in accordance with the decision of the European Commission. It includes interesting measures but nothing is said about financing“, denounces Adeline Hazan. According to a barometer carried out by Unicef with the Federation of Solidarity Actors, there are 42,156 homeless children in France. Among them, 1658 would be on the street, 29,000 in hotels, the others in hostels.
The figures are chilling: every five days, a child is killed by one of his parents. The number of calls to 119 to report a minor in danger had exploded during the first confinement. And the report confirms: the share of hospitalizations of children resulting from violence increased by 50% between 2017 and 2020. “Reporting systems exist, but lack resources. We can’t spot the weak signals, the situations become encysted“regrets Adeline Hazan, former president of the magistrates’ union.
The state itself can be abusive: France has already been condemned nine times since 2012 by the European Court of Human Rights for the confinement of foreign children in detention centres. “It should be banned», Claims the former controller general of places of deprivation of liberty, who also asks the repatriation of all French children detained in Syria .
The bankruptcy of the ASE
The child protection law of February 7, 2022 should allow progress for the 308,000 minors benefiting from monitoring. But the trend is not good:There are more and more children entrusted to child welfare [ASE], but the average cost of care is decreasing, and with it the quality of reception“, denounces Adeline Hazan. Not to mention the recruitment crisis affecting jobs related to children. “Institutions are led to hire staff who have just left school or fixed-term contracts without any training“, she warns. As for unaccompanied foreign minors, prefects refuse to entrust them to the ASE, considering that they are adults on the basis of questionable bone tests.
Faced with these shortcomings, Unicef France is putting forward proposals: creation of a real ministry for children; implementation of a global strategy – “the roadmap of the Secretary of State for Children is very vague at this stage”, judges the former PS deputy;and investment of 1.5 billion euros over five years (to supplement the budget for child welfare, endowed with 8 to 10 billion euros). In the eyes of the president of Unicef France, France is certainly not the worst pupil in the world, but it” can do better“.