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French Kids Insured from Bullying

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Driven by reports of brutal schoolyard bullying, several French companies launched insurance plans last year that would reimburse students for almost anything from stolen textbooks to ripped clothing, according to Associated Press.

Among claims covered by “bully insurance” are pieces of property deliberately damaged or stolen by other children, along with compensation for medical expenses and shattered eyeglasses.

Families initiated the new policy by asking insurers to come up with some protection against school bullying, Patrick Moreau with MEA, a prominent French insurance company, told the Guardian in Great Britain.

“They are fed up with their kids coming home minus some very expensive piece of designer gear,” he said.

The bully insurance is an optional policy parents can add to a compulsory insurance premium starting at an equivalent of $8 a year, according to Guardian.

Police said there were 30,000 serious cases of bullying reported in France in 2000. Some of those cases included instances when children were attacked after refusing to hand over a piece of designer clothing.

MMA, another French insurer, has set a $111 limit on its coverage of bullying incidents.

Insurance companies said the only material losses they will not reimburse are cash and mobile phones.

While there are still no metal detectors in French schools, about 20 Paris-area schools started this academic year with surveillance cameras. Since 2000, police officers have been posted outside some of France’s toughest schools.

In the United States, almost 11 percent of 15,686 students in grades 6 through 10 reported they had been bullied sometimes or weekly, while 13 percent said they had bullied others, according to a study published last year by the American Medical Association.

Junior high boys dominate the bullying scene in the United States. Recent studies show more than 6 percent of students reported having been both the perpetrator and the target of bullying.

A look at U.S. insurance companies showed they have not yet offered policies similar to the bully insurance programs in France.

Alex Smirnov is BCE’s research associate.