France announces ‘surge of authority’ against student violence hours before schoolgirls stabbed

France announces ‘surge of authority’ against student violence hours before schoolgirls stabbed

The issue has come to a head with the far-right party, National Rally (RN), accusing Attal of not doing enough on security matters as the anti-immigration party soars ahead of the government coalition in polls for the June 9 election.

Speaking in Viry-Chatillon, the town where Shemseddine was killed, Mr Attal condemned the “addiction of some of our adolescents to violence”, calling for “a real surge of authority… to curb violence”.

“There are twice as many adolescents involved in assault cases, four times more in drug trafficking, and seven times more in armed robberies than in the general population,” he said, also noting increased “Islamist” influences.

Measures will include expanding compulsory school attendance to all days of the week from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm for children of college age. Attendance is currently only compulsory up until the age of 16.

“In the day the place to be is at school, to work and to learn,” said Mr Attal, who was also marking 100 days in office since being appointed in January by president Emmanuel Macron to turn round the government’s fortunes.

‘If you disobey – we teach you respect’

Parents needed to take more responsibility, added Mr Attal, warning that particularly disruptive children would have sanctions marked on their final grades.

Promoting an old-fashioned back-to-basics approach to school authority, he said: “You break something – you repair it. You make a mess – you clear it up. And if you disobey – we teach you respect.”

Mr Attal also floated the possibility of children in exceptional cases being denied the right to special treatment on account of their minority in legal cases.

In those cases 16-year-olds could be forced to immediately appear in court after violations “like adults”, he said. In France, the age of majority is 18, in accordance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Mr Macron and Mr Attal face an uphill struggle to reverse the tide ahead of the European elections. Current polls point to the risk of a major disruption that would overshadow the rest of the president’s second mandate, which runs until 2027.

A poll this week by Ifop-Fiducial showed the RN on 32.5 per cent, with the government coalition far behind on 18 per cent.

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