French companies offer ‘bully insurance’ for students amid rise in schoolyard crime |

French companies offer ‘bully insurance’ for students amid rise in schoolyard crime

PARIS (AP) – Spurred on by reports of brutal schoolyard bullying, several French companies are offering back-to-school ”bully insurance” that reimburses pupils for everything from stolen textbooks to ripped clothing.

Property damaged or stolen by other children has joined the list of claims reimbursed by France’s school insurance, along with more common mishaps like broken bones and shattered eyeglasses. Student insurance, which starts at about $7 for a year’s coverage, is required in French schools.

”Families came to us and asked us to do something,” said Patrick Moreau, an executive with student insurance company MEA, which came up with the concept two years ago.

Until recently, French parents watched news reports about violence in American schools with a mixture of incredulity and relief, since school violence just wasn’t an issue here.

But recently, attacks by children against children have become a serious problem, especially in tough neighborhoods.

Last year, three French junior high school students were accused of attempted murder when they threw an 11-year-old over a railing. In another case, a vocational school student claimed three fellow classmates burned him with hot irons and cigarettes. Terrified their children might be hurt by bullies, parents temporarily shut down several schools last year by barricading the doors.

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