the town hall of Bouc-Bel-Air takes the opposite view

In the Squid Game series, participants indulge in children’s games in the hope of winning a large sum. But if they lose, they are executed. – Youngkyu Park / Netflix / AFP


“If I move, do I die?” Asks a child. To take the opposite view of the ultra-violent Korean series Squid Game, which was beginning to invade the playgrounds of its primary schools, the town hall of Bouc-Bel-Air (Bouches-du-Rhône) organized a week of “Cop’s Game”.

“We realized that the children saw this South Korean series and that they were marked by it”, explains Richard Mallié, the mayor of the town of 15,000 inhabitants. “So the proposal was to put together a game, called ‘Cop’s Game’, the game of friends, which is totally the opposite” of what happens in the series broadcast on Netflix, he adds.

In the first episode of Squid Game, several hundred participants having as one thing in common an imperious need for money find themselves summoned to a mysterious competition for which they were selected at the end of a humiliating session of slaps. The first game they are offered is a “1,2,3 soleil” which is childish only in its title. Because in this version, it’s a giant doll equipped with motion detection cameras that identifies players who have moved. Those who lose are executed on the spot.

Schoolyard phenomenon

Nothing like that, of course, in the playgrounds of Bouc-Bel-Air, but behaviors which were however beginning to be sufficiently worrying for the town hall to decide to take the lead.

“A little bit everywhere in our schoolyards” children were playing at 1,2,3 sun “and the losers, those who moved, received a pair of slaps. This is what alerted us before the school holidays” , says Audrey Terzian, deputy director of the Bouc-Bel-Air school service.

“On Halloween, the children arrived disguised as ‘Squid Game’,” she adds, estimating that around 60% of the 350 or so CM1 and CM2 students from the four Bouc-Bel-Air schools who participated in “Cop’s Game “have seen the Korean series, yet prohibited to under 16s.

While in “this series, with 1,2,3 sun, we have the individualism that stands out excessively, since we walk on everything to get there and we even kill the participants, with ‘Cop’s Game’, to win, you have to arrive all together “, details the mayor

“All together” versus “alone against all”

Tuesday, in the courtyard of La Salle school, the forty children lined up wait for Julianna, extracurricular animator, to turn around and start counting. But there is no question of rushing to reach the finish line first. Here, the children, arm in arm, form a single human chain.

Impossible in these conditions to move forward without the others, without coordinating, at the risk of moving the whole block and having to start again from square one. Additional difficulty: some students are subject to constraints (having their eyes masked, moving forward on one foot) which make cooperation all the more necessary.

“‘Cop’s Game’ is better because in ‘Squid Game’ it is not a team effort, we have to die, whereas in ‘Cop’s Game’ we are all together and we do not die” , testifies Nelia, 9 years old, in CM1 class.

“We are on innovative pedagogy and not on repression, that’s really what we want to put forward: we can do otherwise”, indicates for her part Corinne Le Meut, the deputy mayor in charge of School supplies.

“Changing the point of view”

“Forbid something to a child, it is to make him want to do it, so we said to ourselves that we were going to change the point of view of the children and show them benevolence, the collective, the cooperation”, abounds Audrey Terzian.

So many values ​​that have been crowned, not by a consequent jackpot as in Squid Game, but by issuing to each student a “diploma of benevolence and cooperation”.

“We explain to them that they are the guarantors of the benevolence of the games of course”, advances Audrey Terzian, for whom this experience is only the beginning. “‘Cop’s Game’ is a pretext which will allow us to deal with several subjects which influence our children”, in particular bullying at school. “We will not do miracles but it is small seeds that we sow”.

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