French PM backs boarding schools to tackle youth ‘addiction to violence’

French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal on Monday endured a sometimes rocky reception at a boarding school taking on children during the Easter break, part of government efforts to stem juvenile delinquency and keep teens off the streets during holidays.

Attal’s trip to the Lycée du Parc impérial in Nice, on the French Riviera, came days after he announced a crackdown on youth violence in and around schools following a series of incidents that have shocked the nation.

An experimental programme catering to youths aged 13 to 16, the two-week boarding school in Nice is part of wider government efforts aimed at keeping teens off the streets during France's long school holidays.

“There’s a violence problem among young people. Tackling the issue is one of my government's biggest priorities,” Attal told a group of teenagers in uniform tracksuits as he visited the school.

When he asked the group whether they were happy to be there for the Easter holidays, which started on April 20 in the Nice region, most replied in the negative.

“My parents didn't convince me to go, they forced me,” said one male student aged 14. Another boy seemed not to know who Attal was, asking the 35-year-old premier: “Are you the mayor or the prime minister?”

“Me, I am the prime minister and the mayor, he is there,” answered Attal, France’s youngest ever prime minister, gesturing to Nice mayor Christian Estrosi.

“The idea here is not to punish, but to prevent,” he added. “The idea is to help you.”

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