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“They are above all suffering adolescents”

Last week, in the middle of the school vacation period, clashes between gangs of young people increased in the Paris region, killing at least three people. The economic crisis, the lack of means of social protection, but also the use of social networks can explain this spiral of deadly violence.

Aymane, 15 years old, died in Bondy on Friday 26 February, after being shot in a neighborhood house in this city of Seine-Saint-Denis. The alleged perpetrators, two brothers aged 17 and 27 years, were indicted and detained on Monday 1er March. This teenager is the third to have lost his life in less than a week in the Parisian suburbs, in settling of scores between young people.

A few days earlier, two other 14-year-old teenagers, a young girl and a boy, were killed in another department in the Paris region, Essonne. Both were stabbed in different brawls between young people from rival gangs.

“It is not surprising that the most serious problems take place during the school holidays, because young people are on their own, especially at this time with the closure of sports clubs and some youth centers. are above all suffering adolescents, young people in difficulty “, analyzes Yazid Kherfi, consultant in urban prevention. “In the neighborhoods, at night, there is nothing open, apart from the police station. And this phenomenon of emptiness is accentuated at the moment with the curfew”, describes this former robber who has been crisscrossing the neighborhoods since 2012 sensitive overnight for prevention. “Myself, I am prevented from going to meet these young people at the moment, because of the prohibitions linked to Covid-19”, deplores Yazid Kherfi.

Clashes up 25 %

After the series of murders which mourned the Ile-de-France last week, the Ministers of the Interior, Justice and Education met urgently to decree Monday 1er March the general mobilization of the government against the phenomenon of fights between young people.

According to Place Beauvau, clashes between gangs are on the rise. Some 357 altercations were recorded in 2020 in France, against 288 in 2019. Three people were killed and 218 injured during these clashes this year. At national scale, the ministry of l” Interior lists 74 bands, of which 46 are located on the spring of the pParis police reform, which also includes Seine-Saint-Denis, Val-de-Marne and Hauts-de-Seine.

For Thomas Sauvadet, author of “The warlike capital, competition and solidarity between young people of cities”, these figures would be underestimated. “The police only record the most serious situations and many victims do not file complaints for fear of reprisals.”

“About 10% of young men under 30 living in a district classified as political the city belong to a gang,” according to its investigative work. “These gangs are made up of young people who know each other from an early age, sometimes from 7-10 years old. In adolescence, they accumulate difficulties at school, problems of professional integration, with family conflicts that they seek. to flee. They come together to feel stronger and find themselves in conflict situations with those around them, including social workers. “

Social networks have encouraged the passage to the act

“These young people come together to give themselves an identity and protect themselves. They live in great social insecurity, because they often come from precarious families. But also insecurity between them, because with social networks threats and passages to the act are multiplying, “noted Yazid Kherfi. “In distancing, they berate each other more easily. But insults on social networks end up materializing in violence on the public highway the day they come face to face.” An observation shared by Thomas Sauvadet, who believes that social networks have encouraged gang violence by participating in their staging, and by accelerating the dissemination of information, which facilitated the organization of punitive meetings.

This role of social networks is taken very seriously by the government. In particular, it plans to use local groups for the treatment of delinquency, bringing together the police, town hall and educational services under the aegis of the prosecution. The purpose of these brigades would be to monitor social networks through which young people can meet to do battle. This is one of the measures of the plan to fight gangs, announced by the Ministries of Justice and the Interior in a press release.

But for Thomas Sauvadet, social networks have helped accelerate a cultural phenomenon that had already started to spread. “The gang culture, inspired by the United States, has become ‘mainstream’. It has even been taken over by multinationals, such as a famous sports brand, which was inspired by it to sell a clothing line to young people.” The sociologist denounces the trivialization of this “culture of the violent gang” by rappers and influencers, with gestural and dress codes, and sometimes the apology for firearms.

The lack of educators in the field

Several other phenomena have favored the development of gangs and their violence, in particular since the 1980s: the professionalization of drug trafficking, in which these gangs are frequently involved, but also the emergence of a category that the researcher calls the “old young” with the emergence of mass unemployment. “These are young adults who are between 20 and 30 years old and still living with their parents. The ‘old young people’ have been stuck in gangs since their teenage years because of the precariousness surrounding them, difficulties in finding a job and a housing. They become network heads that influence those below, professionalize, serve as a model of the use of violence for the youngest. “

At the same time, on the ground, it is clear that there is a lack of resources for the social protection of young people in difficulty, observe both Yazid Kherfi and Thomas Sauvaget. This is manifested by the glaring lack of specialized prevention educators working in the public space, those who are nicknamed “street educators.” “When there are three for a district of 5,000 inhabitants, c ‘is already great luxury, “laments Thomas Sauvaget.” The budget would have to be multiplied by ten for it to be effective. ”

However, according to the researcher, the social worker acts on the margins. “It cannot by itself solve the basic problems of society. We must not forget to question the economic dimension linked to drug consumption and trafficking, the issue of unemployment, poor housing and also the rise of gang culture in our society. “

The government plan to fight gangs, which should be adopted by 1er May, for its part, includes measures essentially focused on strengthening security, judicial monitoring of young people, but also some aspects of social prevention with in particular the monitoring of school absenteeism and the promise of strengthening neighborhood mediation , announced the executive, without giving for the moment details on the means granted.


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