Jump to content
Complete France Forum

Parents and Young Girls


Lehaut

Recommended Posts

We are parents with two teenage boys, so our parenting skill with reference to girls is limited. However, two separate French families have contacted us in the past couple of weeks expecting us to put their 16/17 year old daughters in contact with "friends" in the UK so that one can go and stay with them for 1 or 2 months during the holidays and the other for her daughter and friend (who she has never met) to go for a couple of weeks. Of these three girls, one we know, the other two we have never met either.

We were a bit stunned by the requests as, to our minds, the pitfalls are many. My question is, are we over thinking this or do these parents really think they can send three female "minors" with limited language skills off to big cities in the UK to stay with people they don't know because they are totally confident in our choice of friends/family or are they just naive?
Link to comment
Share on other sites

[quote user="Lehaut"]

We were a bit stunned by the requests as, to our minds, the pitfalls are many. My question is, are we over thinking this or do these parents really think they can send three female "minors" with limited language skills off to big cities in the UK to stay with people they don't know because they are totally confident in our choice of friends/family or are they just naive?[/quote]

With us it was the woman we bought our house from 2 years ago; out of the blue I received an email (she got my email address from the estate agent) asking if I could help place her grand-daughter with some 'friends' in the UK for 6 weeks in the summer. Like you I was stunned as we had only met this couple once, on the day of the signing, as they had moved out of the house. So I said I didn't have any friends in the south near to ferry ports (true, we had lived in Lincolnshire) but understood there were some companies that organised just such trips and sent her the email addresses and websites of a couple of them.

Not hearing another word I came to the conclusion that some French people are extraordinarily naive.

Sue

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Naive....or savvy? If anyone has had dealings with any of the "organised" language exchange companies, they'd probably baulk at the cost of engaging them to place their daughters with families. I'm sure they would never envisage going it alone being as expensive.

I also question the motives of someone who thinks that any family would be delighted to have a guest - paying or otherwise,- staying with them for six weeks or so. Language schools have organised programmes which generally absolve the host family from having to entertain their paying guests, other than by prior arrangement at breakfast and dinner, and maybe on odd other occasions.

I'm sure there may be an element of naïveté, but I wonder whether it's also tempered with a desire to get something for nothing...or, at least, something for a lot less than it would otherwise cost.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

[quote user="You can call me Betty"]Naive....or savvy? I'm sure there may be an element of naïveté, but I wonder whether it's also tempered with a desire to get something for nothing...or, at least, something for a lot less than it would otherwise cost.[/quote]

That thought did cross my mind. [;-)]

Sue

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The financial element is certainly there, but, at least until recently, I found the 'child protection' awareness very much lower in France than would have been the case in the UK. at the time

When I first arrived in France I spent a couple of years doing supply work in Lycées and Collèges.

In the last one I had a phone call asking me to do a week's cover in a Collège in a nearby village.

I arrived at 7.45 a.m. to find the gates shut as they didnt start until 8.30 unlike the lycée where I had been previously.

When the caretaker opened I was able to wander into the Salle des Profs  and hang around. A maths' teacher recognised me from a totally separate event in town and asked me what I was waiting for. I explained I had been asked to do some supply and he said 'Oh that must be for Mrs X who is having a difficult pregnancy'  and he took it upon himself to get her timetable out of a filing cabinet (there was no-one official to do it) and find me her classroom key.

Armed with only that as preparation I then worked for the week never seeing anyone except the administrative secretary who needed to deal with my time-sheet.

This seemed  to me extraordinarily lax even over 10 years ago, as no checks were made as far as I was aware at all, either of who I was or what I was doing.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

At 16-17  it's also likely that the girls are putting a lot of pressure on their parents to let them go - they know they could have a great time in the relative freedom of the UK, especially London.

If they were younger, say 13-14, they might be more likely to keep to limits.

Our girls did french exchange through school when they were 12ish. The french girls we had to stay were very well behaved. One of our girls enjoyed the french visit, the other one had a miserable time.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the replies, so its not just us! Being a Yorkshire man married to a Scot , the freebie element was the first thought, but we were trying to be charitable!!

Neither family mentioned anything about a financial contribution. I too looked up "host families" and was surprised by the cost - I doubt either family had checked this.

What worried us most was the responsibility of asking any family member or friend (I doubt they would remain so after a 2 month "visit") to look after a young girl.

We are going to take the French approach and just ignore it till its raised again.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Norman, just seen your post. Things have not changed. Three years ago at our eldest's Lycée, the new Philosophy teacher arrived. Only after he had made indecent written proposals to a 17 year old female student in the class and she complained did they look into his qualifications. He had none, had no record of teaching and had fled the Lycée after 3 months of being there. This is a large establishment with an effective of 1500.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

After several years of helping out as a benevole at the lycee I have now been taken on on a formal basis but still no checks of any kind, I could be living at an accomodation address for all they know.

I have taken students on trips to England albeit with other teachers, each year we take the new intake on a camping trip and I may be the one chosen to go and give support to those doing their stages in Poland and Germany, the potential there for an abuser is really worrying as the students will be a long way from home, probably feeling homesick and vulnerable, far from parental and other support, thats exactly why someone is being sent but for those very reasons it should be someone that ahs been vetted.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have been asked a couple of times to find host families in UK for local teenagers - I wouldnt even vaguely consider doing so due to risks involved and I doubt if anyone I know in UK would consider it either.

Its just a case of different standards, I suppose. Plenty of French families send their kids to camps for the summertime. We had several groups staying in the local campsite when I was running the resto and many of them had organised to come to us for cheap group meals. Very often the "responsible adults" in charge of these groups were gormless fuckwits with little idea of how to deal with kids and in a couple of cases the carers were barely older than the kids they were looking after.

Nobody else seemed surprised by any of this.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have had one single experience of something similar.

A friend of a friend (both French) asked whether we could find someone in the UK who would have their daughter for a couple of months for the girl to improve her English as she was studying to be a notaire.

Fortunately, I had a good friend who owned a language school (Betty, I am referring to your post here) and I put them in touch with each other.  The cost was VERY high but I told the mother that it was a good part of the UK (Cirencester) and that the people were trusty types whose accent would be RP (I didn't say RP, of course!) and that their daughter would be safe.

My dear friend found a fab family for the girl, a family with teenaged boys and très pukka [;-)] so everybody was happy, that is to say, the girl herself and her parents.

After the stay, the mother rang to thank me and I, who didn't speak much French in those days, heaved a sigh of relief that all went well.  I didn't want to ask anybody, not family and not friends, to put anyone up but, in this case, it was fine because I guessed (correctly) that the parents of the girl were not exactly strapped for funds.

Wonder if she did finish her notaire studies?  NOT that I would know what notaire studies involve?[:D]

Link to comment
Share on other sites

One thing's for sure.  The children here don't seem to be taught to be wary of strangers, as ours are.

When we were house-hunting, we'd stop at some village, just because we thought it looked interesting and hordes of young children would come up to the car to say bonjour and to ask what we wanted.

We could easily have scooped a couple up and tranported them elsewhere in the blink of an eye..........

I find that quite scarey.  OTOH, I do think some British parents are unnecessarily over-protective.  I don't think it's easy to strike a balance.  After all, what parent would not want to protect their children?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"After all, what parent would not want to protect their children?"

How about those who smoke in the house or car with children, feed them enough food to make them obese (the new normal in the UK), think its every one's fault but their own their children are badly behaved etc etc!!
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I wonder, honestly, when and why (although the "why" is probably rhetorical) we became so obsessed by the idea that letting our children out of our sight was equivalent to signing their own death warrant? I can only remember one incident from my childhood when I was severely punished by my parents for "going off" with someone, and that was when a friend and I asked the milkman if we could help him on his round, and he agreed so off we went for half the day, delivering milk...having omitted to let our parents know.

In our household, my husband is the only family member not to have been CRB checked, as the rest of us have all had jobs where we were required to have them. I don't think we're especially unusual. My youngest son was required to have his first CRB check at 17, in order to run a skateboard park for the council. It's the standard cop-out for public bodies and even private groups to ensure they've covered their backsides, even though I have no doubt that there will be legions of sex offenders who have never been caught and who could pass a CRB check without problems, many of them ordained members of the clergy.....

I can still remember instances of child abduction and horrific crimes during my own childhood (Hindley and Brady, Mary Bell - whose crime was the equivalent of the James Bulger murder), yet it didn't have the effect of causing my parents to get out the car every time I needed to leave home, nor was I confined to play in the garden or get chauffeured to and from school.

My initial view of the OP, even now, was as I expressed: it strikes me as a way of finding a cheap solution to an expensive problem. I do agree that sending a teenager anywhere - especially a foreign country- for six weeks, is fraught with potential problems, but I admit to thinking that those potential problems are a lot broader than the simple worry of giving someone else custody of them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

[quote user="Lehaut"]"After all, what parent would not want to protect their children?" How about those who smoke in the house or car with children, feed them enough food to make them obese (the new normal in the UK), think its every one's fault but their own their children are badly behaved etc etc!![/quote]

Ah, Lehaut, I was talking about a run-of-the-mill type of parent who struggles to juggle job and domestic demands, who is averagely sensible and who wants the very best they can provide for their children.

I was NOT thinking about selfish individuals; you know, the sort of people who'd open or close a train window without asking if anybody minded, who'd help themselves to the last portion on the serving plate without at least offering to share it, who'd light up a cigarette without a second thought as to whether someone (OK then ME!) would have a problem with the smoke (in my case, quite severe asthma).

These selfish individuals make selfish parents, that's all.  Though, before I get bashed for such a wide-sweeping statement, there are also selfish individuals who undergo some sea change after becoming parents[:)]

For many years, back in the UK, I did a fair bit of volunteering work with the National Austistic Children charity and the parents (who nearly always were only too ready to blame themselves) were always told that you didn't need to be some sort of perfect parent, you only needed to be a "good enough" one.

And I was merely pointing out that a "good enough" parent would always want to put their children's safety first.  Unless, of course, you are the nation's icon of a "Domestic Goddess" in which case you make your own rules and you can snort substances in front of your children and the Prime Minister himself would defend you on national TV.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Am I right in thinking reading the posts on this thread that France does not have any process like a CRB check on persons working with children and the elderly?... I have just had to submit my 4th set of forms for a check over the years I have been a volunteer connected with the NHS and with community service . Now its a Photo ID and home service bills production check they have tightened up so much on this . Are the French living in a different world from us ?.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well as all who live here have a criminal record they probably think they don't need it.

To be clear: if you live here legally and have gone through the correct procedures (in my case it was obtaining a carte de séjour, but that is no longer needed) have a record  ( a casier judiciaire )held at Nantes.

It may be empty or it may have  things noted in it. In any case one can demand a copy of one's own casier, which has the advantage of being able to 'prove' that you have no record, (as long as you haven't obviously) [:-))]

If an employer wishes to see this it is up to the individual to ask for it, as the employer can't ask directly.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...