France approves proposed law to criminalise school bullying which could see bullies jailed
Nearly 1 in 10 French students are thought to be severely affected by bullying each year.
MPs in France have approved a proposed law to criminalise bullying in the country's schools and to provide teachers with greater training to prevent harassment.
The proposed bill will make school bullying a specific criminal offence, with those found guilty potentially faces fines of up to €45,000 and even jail time.
If a bully's actions force their victim to miss school or work for up to eight days, the bully could face up to three years in prison.
This could increase to ten years' imprisonment and a fine of €150,000 if the victim attempts or dies by suicide.
Under the legislature, both bullies and school staff could be held liable – and social media companies would have a "duty of vigilance" in moderating harassment.
A lower house majority approved the draft bill at its first reading in the French National Assembly last week. It will now go to the French Senate, where it will be voted on in February.
President Emmanuel Macron pledged to strengthen the response to bullying in France, where nearly one in ten students is severely affected by bullying each year, according to statistics.
While some socialist MPs have expressed that the law is "not the appropriate response" to the issue, Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer welcomed what he described as an "important step" designed to "discourage" bullying in schools.
Democratic Movement MP Erwan Balanant, who drafted the law, also stressed that it was "not about sending children to prison" but said that bullying had been "amplified" by technology and that "there are no longer any limits, either in time or space."