These children who are lynched at the little school of life

There has been a lot of talk recently about the verbal and especially physical violence that fell on teachers, bus drivers, metro passengers, elected officials or simple pedestrians who dared to walk the streets of Montreal. But what marked my imagination the most in this avalanche of disturbing stories was seeing, thanks to social networks, defenseless children being lynched by other children under the impassive gaze of a horde of spectators from same age.

Four elements make up these tribal scenes that circulate on the Web.

You have a victim, a sort of scapegoat who, kneeling or lying on the ground, takes blows of incredible violence. This child, reduced to the status of prey or toy, will emerge broken, traumatized and humiliated from this violent and degrading experience.

And then, there is the child-executioner, very probably uncomfortable in his skin, unloved, full of hatred and who imagines that he will be able to gain respect or admiration from his comrades by unloading gratuitous violence on his child. painkiller.

And all around, we find a pack of child spectators attracted by blood, complicit by their passivity in the crime they are contemplating, but cut off from their natural empathy thanks, in part, to their phones which they brandish in front of them like so many shields that allow them to virtualize and therefore trivialize the scene.

The fourth element, for its part, is conspicuous by its absence: it is the adult, who never appears in these edifying videos to bring order to this unspeakable chaos.

A defective transmission belt

Regardless of the angle from which we look at these violent events, I affirm that they are above all the illustration of a monumental collective failure: that of our society, of the adults who compose it and of our education system. And I insist: all those who attend and participate in these lynching ceremonies are, to varying degrees, including the child executioner, the victims of our inability to transmit values ​​to them, to offer them positive models, to socialize them and make them respectful and responsible citizens.

For too long, our society has believed that we should leave children alone, stop “lecturing” them, stop bullying them. In order to protect their self-esteem and their beautiful authenticity, it was believed that they must flourish at their own pace, without hindrance and with as few restrictions as possible so that they can become what they already are.

We talk a lot, and rightly so, about the devastation caused by the omnipresence of smartphones in the lives of children and adolescents and the excessive time they spend on social networks. But what we forget to say is that the arrival and overuse of these screens and digital devices have only exacerbated a trend that was already well established in our society, that of holding children away from the world of adults, particularly the elderly, and to let them “educate” themselves by taking themselves as a model and measure of all things.

Thus, thanks to new technologies which are now in their hands day and night, these children and adolescents can now listen candidly – and in the purest solitude – to superficial and consumerist comments from influencers, to be brainwashed by speeches conspiratorial or hateful, learn about sexuality by watching porn, spend hours and hours on TikTok or other platforms to watch tasteless and stultifying video clips or imagine having a busy social life by interacting with virtual friends who have no more substance than the shadows projected on the wall of Plato’s cave.

“A man stops himself”

Faced with the atrocities committed by soldiers on the remains of an enemy, Comery, a character in Albert Camus’ posthumous and unfinished novel entitled The first man, asserts forcefully to condemn these barbaric gestures: “No, a man can’t stop himself. » A child must also be able to prevent himself from falling into gratuitous violence, but on condition that he has been equipped and educated to do so!

Because, contrary to what Jean-Jacques Rousseau and the apostles of the new pedagogy who were inspired by the Genevan philosopher’s romantic conception of the human being, it is not true that children are good in themselves, that their lies “are all the work of the masters”, that it is society which sooner or later ends up corrupting them and making them violent. Aggression, just like empathy, is part of human nature, as it is part of the nature of large primates and all mammals which have the common characteristic of being social animals.

However, so that this aggressiveness does not degenerate into gratuitous violence in the child, it is possible, not to make this aggressiveness disappear, but rather to supervise it, to channel it or, better still, to sublimate it through — by example — to discipline, sport, culture, art, strong values ​​and a rich and articulate language which will allow the child to express his emotions and frustrations.

In short, thanks to education, this civilizational mission is accomplished through authentic work of transmission from one generation to another, that is to say from adults to children.

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