Stoned children: Florent Georgesco traces the path of five young people in his book “Unforeseen Lives”

The figures are terrifying: the 340,000 children cared for by Children’s Social Assistance (ASE) are twice as likely to suffer from cancer as adults and thirty-seven times more likely to suffer from depressive disorders. Every year, of 100,000 new cases of minors in need of protection, 25,000 will not be able to integrate correctly into society or will be left homeless, and 50,000 will present various psychological disorders*.

Jimmy, whose leg was broken by his father’s blows, Tricia, orphaned at the age of 12, Souleymane**, arrived alone in France at the age of 14 after having experienced the hell of the Libyan camps, Schouka, extracted at the age of 5 years of an incestuous and violent family, and Audrey, who, at the age of 5, went to school without washing or feeding, show us that it is not inevitable in this area. Now they are between 20 and 30 years old, a house, a job, a lover, projects and, for Tricia, a girl full of vitality!

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A happiness earned with a hard fight.

To understand how they got here, Florent Georgesco, journalist from World, took the time to meet with them over several months, on multiple occasions. “I wanted to get out of the angle from which we generally approach the placement of children (ASE rulings, dramas, news) and tell the complexity of a path with its ups and downs, its advances and its setbacks, which, for some, leads to simple happiness of everyday life, he explains.

While most of us inherited it without question, they patiently and painstakingly built it. These five young people are aware that what they have in their hands is a fragile treasure, that precariousness, if they relax their efforts, could resurface at any moment. Seeing them again in October 2023 (to write my epilogue) allowed me to see that, if they are not completely out of the woods, if their trajectory remains marked by the consequences of their broken childhood, they are fundamentally determined to escape social reproduction. They teach us this ability to go beyond what was planned for us. Its message is universal. »

a question about dating

We would love to understand the “recipe” for this miracle. Florent Georgesco asked the question to the educators of the Matins bleus association (seven houses in Vaucluse and Bouches-du-Rhône), which helped them grow. Answer: there is none! There are children who suffer the worst horrors from a very young age and survive, while others, exposed to “lesser” violence, collapse.

“The truth is that the quality of the work of educators and host families, their intelligence and humanity, as well as the stability over time of the teams, rules and reference points, are preconditions for the possibility of reconstruction, observes the journalist, who deliberately does not use the word “resilience”, which is overused in his opinion. The sooner the child is welcomed, the more we offer him the possibility of playing with a symbolic family body, in front of which he can assert himself as a unique individual capable of moving forward. » More confidently, the young person can then take advantage of outstretched hands and opportunities… when they present themselves. Because meeting the right people at the right time is also a matter of luck.

“Jimmy, Tricia, Souleymane, Schouka and Audrey have, above all, in common a desire to live that attracts them and arouses admiration,” acknowledges the author of Unforeseen Lives. Everyone has found themselves, at one time or another, at a crossroads with the possibility of falling the wrong way. Despite all the help provided by educators, you need this acute awareness (ultimately, you are the only one who decides your life) to make the decisions that will allow you not to sink. »

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Support them as long as possible

Vocational crisis, reduction in reception capacity in homes or families… Today, a Jimmy or a Souleymane probably, unfortunately, would not have been able to be cared for, with the consequences we imagine. “The alarmist situation of child psychiatry in France does not help at all,” says Florent Georgesco. Children with increasingly serious mental illnesses are placed in emergency homes, even though they have nothing to do there, and they alter the dynamics of the group. »

Another problem: the 18-year-old cutoff date, which forces many placed teenagers to choose early guidance (of the CAP type), even for those who do not have academic difficulties, when most of them do not send them out on the streets. “When children are placed they can sign a young adult contract (under conditions that vary from one department to another), which allows them to benefit from significant help until they are 21 years old, which changes everything,” says the journalist. Asking those with fewer resources and family support to get by faster is absurd. » LoireAtlantique and SeineSaintDenis have decided to extend their support up to 25 years, but these measures remain exceptional. When they manage to escape their original assignment, these young men can be proud of themselves! “They remind us that our need for control is illusory and that we must trust our children, even when they take wrong paths,” he adds. Because no life is linear…”

Unplanned livesFlorent Georgesco, (Grasset).

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*Figures cited by the Pegase program, the first experimental public health program to offer standardized monitoring and early psychological care to SEL children.

**Only the name has been changed for confidentiality reasons.

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