Within restricted area, The M6 presenter offers a new documentary on child welfare, two years after an issue that caused a scandal.
After the shock two years ago of an initial investigation into child welfare failures, restricted area continues with Foster families, social hotels: the new scandal of foster children. Interview with an engaged Ophélie Meunier, for which it is already the seventh year at the head of M6 magazine.
In 2019, you pissed off the French with Minors in danger: investigation into the scandalous failures of the Children’s Social Work. Why go back to the topic?
A law was passed in February 2022, no doubt hastened by our earlier documentary. Consciousness is at work. Hotel pickup is now prohibited. Families and foster homes should be better supervised and educators should be better supervised. Educational projects must see the light of day. Collaboration between the State, departments and associations will also be strengthened. But the work is colossal. Our goal is to make waves, hit the theme in such a way that things happen.
Are you coming to delve into the former or are you heading for something else entirely?
Gender identity, domestic violence… Childhood is often mentioned in the magazine. It is even one of our workhorses. The first issue put together an uplifting inventory of foster homes. In this new complementary theme, we are focusing more on host families, social hotels and certain housing, to which we have seen fit to offer participation rights. Not everything is fixed, far from it.
“Our objective is not to push for the sake of pushing, but to say things. »
So there is nothing working?
Our goal is not to push for push’s sake, but to say things. Inevitably, we point out what is going wrong. However, we also show what is going well. Like this exemplary host family we met. Like this house in Dijon, a hell two years ago and a paradise today, according to the children themselves… Beyond that, in my mother’s eyes like those of many people, the misfortune of an only child justifies denouncing a system that is it supposes to replace the parents and that it does not do it, in too many cases. It is not because we remove a child from his degraded environment that he is saved.
Is this often the case?
Many of these children spend years under the protection of ASE. And in the long run, if you don’t take care of them properly, they won’t make it. These children number 300,000. Wherever they come from, they are the future of our country.
“We all have around us the example of a child who has experienced a trauma, who has fallen into drugs, who has been on the verge of delinquency or who has relapsed seriously…”
Are these children lost?
We all have around us the example of a child who has experienced trauma, who has fallen into drugs, who has been on the verge of delinquency or who has committed a serious slip. And we all have around us the example of a kid who was cause for serious concern and who did very well. Of course, the odds are not equal. Of course, a high proportion of foster children end up on the streets. But I don’t want to tell myself that it’s over!
Would you become a host family?
I often think about it. It is a very intimate question. I’m not alone and I know how emotionally difficult it can be to take in a child who we know will be taken from you in a year, two or three years, either to be returned to his parents, which is a good thing if that’s possible, or to be placed somewhere else to avoid any real attachment, which is a terribly perverse effect of the system. What is a child without love? And what is it to welcome a child to whom we should not give love?
Very specifically, what repercussions do you expect from this number of Forbidden Zone?
Awareness, facts, concrete measures and a dream: to repeat the same survey in two or three years and see the progress. My dream would be that this subject is no longer a subject.
“It is an honor to have taken charge of a program (…) acclaimed and capable of generating changes even within the National Assembly. »
Are you still so happy in M6?
Much ! It is an honor to have taken the reins of a program not only born thirty years ago and hosted successively by great names in journalism, but also recognized, unique in its kind – ninety-minute mono themes, in-depth investigations over several years… -, acclaimed and capable of causing changes even within the National Assembly. I have been taking care of it proudly for seven years!
However, you were subjected to pressure and threats after an issue about radical Islam two years ago. Does the page turn?
I understand your question. I spoke twice about this. But I no longer wish to speak on the subject at all.
ASE in numbers
According to INSEE, Social Assistance to Children (ASE) covers two main forms: educational measures and placement measures, mostly decided by the judicial authority. When a minor cannot be kept in her family, the ASE is responsible for meeting all her material, educational and psychological needs. With an annual endowment of approximately 9,000 million euros, the institution monitors more than 300,000 minors, of which nearly 200,000 live in foster families or in homes, in charge of 1.3 million social workers (specialized educators , maternal and social assistants, etc.) . Many get away with it. But 40% of them, however, would end up on the street.