SCHOOLS in France are more violent than those in England, according to research which says English pupils see school as a safer place and enjoy better relations with their teachers than French pupils do.
French sociologist Catherine Blaya presented findings from her study on bullying and violence in five English and four French secondary schools, at the first International Conference on Violence in Schools and Public Policies in Paris last week.
Ms Blaya questioned 1,675 pupils aged 11 to 16, and their teachers, from schools in poor areas of Birkenhead, Brighton, London, Portsmouth and Southampton, and compared their answers with French children from similar backgrounds in Bordeaux, Marseilles, Paris and Roubaix.
Nearly one-fifth of the French pupils said there was a "tremendous amount" of violence at their schools, compared with only 7.7 per cent of English pupils.
Ms Blaya found the English encountered less violence of all kinds except racketeering, experienced by 13 per cent compared with 7.5 percen of the French. She said the difference was due to "more money circulating in English schools" for school meals and vending machines, and she noted the correlation between extortion and drugs in school.
English pupils usually felt safer and perceived less violence than was actually the case. French pupils' perceptions were more accurate or they tended to over-estimate violence.
Ms Blaya gave three reasons why English schools were less violent places. Unlike in France - where secondary teachers attend school only when they have a class - British teachers were available all day, participated in extra-curricular activities and knew their pupils better.
Management of discipline in the English schools depended on "a culture of dialogue with and listening to young people"; rules were posted up in classrooms and discussed in assembly. Ms Blaya also cited the "greater opening of schools to their neighbourhood".
European Observatory of Violence in Schools: www.obsviolence.pratique.fr; email: Obsviolence @aol.com