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Mailbox 246White mailboxes

From an article by Reasons to be Cheerful

Since spring 2020, a non-profit, Association Les Papillons, “The Butterflies”, have installed more than 220 white mailboxes in schools and sport clubs all over France which more than 60,000 children have access to. Children can write about anything that weighs on them. The letters are read every day and a professional team of psychologists, doctors, educators and law enforcement then confidentially work to find solutions.

Before a mailbox is installed, the Association visits the school or club to introduce themselves and their project and also to encourage the children to sign the letters with their names so they can be helped. The motto on every mailbox reminds kids: “If you can’t say it, write it.”

13% of the letters are about bullying at school. 21% write about physical abuse and 7% about sexual violence. 30% of the violence disclosed in the letters happens within the family, and 70% concerns girls. Only 2% of the letters are trolling the project.

More than 2,000 letters have been received so far.

One school head reported, “I thought there were not many issues in my school so, at the beginning, it was more to clear my conscience. I thought it wouldn’t hurt. The mailbox was installed on a Friday morning last June, and on the very first day, a 10-year-old girl submitted a letter, in which she said that her grandfather inserted his 'lower part' into her 'lower part'. On the following Tuesday, a trained psychologist spoke with the girl and learned that her grandfather had not only raped her, but also two cousins. He was arrested on Wednesday. It took exactly five days between receiving the letter and arresting the perpetrator.”

The Association is working with mayors and communities throughout France to build a network in every district, “so that the children learn that there are adults they can trust.” When children write about bullying or other violent incidents at school, trained educators will intervene. “Through the letters we continue to learn whether the problem persists or has been solved.” 

Eight- and nine-year-olds write more than half of the letters, and 15% come from six- and seven-year-olds. France has a national hotline for child abuse but children under nine years usually don’t have a mobile phone yet and it is not easy for them to call someone without being noticed. But any child can write a letter.

Read the full article here.

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From an article by Reasons to be Cheerful, 12/04/2023

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