The National school anti-bullying day will take place this Thursday, November 10. But among the Fallais, “we think about it every day of our lives for five years”. On the evening of this fatal April 16, 2017, Christopher, the second son of five siblings, was found hanged at the bottom of the stairs of his room by his older sister Montaine. Around his neck: the strap of his laptop. He was 16 years old.
The unspeakable drama unfolded without any member of this family from the Rennes region seeing anything coming. “Christopher was a nice boy, he was passionate about horses and had his heart on his sleeve,” chokes his mother, Sandrine. Educated in 9th grade in a college in the Rennes area, the teenager showed good academic results and had always had a project: “That of training as a farrier and opening an equestrian center with his older brother Killian”.
All history on his cell phone had been erased. But while searching his computer, I came across a dumpster of online hate.
“An online dumpster of hate”
The afternoon of this desperate gesture, “a beautiful spring Sunday”, the young boy took care of the chicken coop and kicked the ball. “He also grumbled a bit because no one was sending him lessons that he had to pick up. But he still worked,” says Sandrine. Nothing that suggests the gesture, terrible, to come.
Christopher didn’t leave a letter behind. The explanation, his relatives were looking for it after the fact, cross-checking the clues, testimonies and decryptions on social networks. “All the history of his mobile phone had been erased. But while searching his computer, I came across a dumpster of online hate. Grouped messages saying that he was “big, fat”, that he was “a dog”, and “a PD, because he was riding a horse”. Sandrine and her husband Bruno gradually discover months, even perhaps years of unsuspected school bullying. “There had indeed been an email alert from the establishment a month earlier, citing behavioral problems in his class. I had immediately spoken to Christopher about it, believing that he could have acted badly, ”explains Sandrine Fallais again. “He got very carried away at this idea and defended” his friends “. They were in fact also his attackers. I’m sorry for not having insisted.
Afterwards, some of her son’s past attitudes shed new light. “There was this time he had a huge bruise on his thigh, but he assured us he had hit himself. Or that other day when his coat was torn and he said he hung it up. Relatives think back to Christopher’s stomach aches, mood swings and new habits, “like keeping a long-sleeved sweater and a down jacket, even in the summer”. “We put that, wrongly, on the account of adolescence”.
The anger among the Fallais has not really subsided. Their first complaint against X, filed just after the facts, was dismissed in 2018. “While four harassers have been clearly identified and the teaching staff knew”, criticizes Sandrine. The comfort, she momentarily found it with other families, including that of Catherine Latrompette and her daughter Kiara, victim, too, of harassment in the same establishment. Together, they launched and co-chaired the Marcel Ment association.
We reassure and bring the energy to hold a long-term fight. There were instructions in civil matters. But in criminal cases, no complaint has been successful so far.
5,498 family calls
“We heard and helped 5,498 families in five years. We reassure and bring the energy to hold a long-term fight. There were instructions in civil matters. But in criminal cases, no complaint has yet been successful, ”informs Catherine Latrompette. The former Rennaise is satisfied to have participated in the writing of the new law against school harassment, brought by Breton deputy Erwan Balanant. “Today, we still do not know how to impose the sanction. But this law has taken a big step by establishing the enforceable right to schooling without harassment. It also makes adults responsible and shows that it is everyone’s business”.
In the meantime, Sandrine Fallais is dealing with “a complicated life” and “Why? atrocious” that continue to torment her. “My eldest daughter was unable to return to live at home after the tragedy. My husband, who was a school bus driver, left to work as a temporary worker. In order not to crack, we ended up moving 60 km away last summer, ”she lists. In the new house, not a room without a portrait of Christopher. “I’m told to move on,” she breathes. “But not talking about it anymore would be like seeing him die a second time.”