Some 100 serious incidents of delinquency are recorded in schools each year, including drug trafficking, and in one school rival gangs compete over which one sells the most, MPs heard on Wednesday.
“Such behaviour is related to drug trafficking, drugs use, bullying, intimidation in various forms,” House education committee chairman Kyriacos Hadjiyiannis told reporters.
Speaking after a closed-door meeting that discussed juvenile delinquency, Hadjiyiannis said Cyprus was far behind other countries as regards tackling such behaviour.
“We are far behind from the moment we have no coherent, comprehensive strategy and planning,” he said. “We are a small country and it is inconceivable to be to have a school where gangs compete over who sells the most (drugs).”
He struck a note of caution, however, that such incidents did not relate to the majority of pupils.
“It is a small percentage, 0.1 per cent, which includes everything, delinquency from drugs to sexual harassment, and … offences that need further analysis, study, on which the strategy will be based,” he said.
Hadjiyiannis said the justice ministry was working on legislation for juvenile delinquents.
The law, according to the Disy MP, concerns offenders over 14, but there was also a need for measures covering those under that age.
“There are measures recommended by the education ministry,” he said. “I cannot comment on specific measures because we are still at the strategy phase.”
Schools must act pre-emptively at the start of the year, preparing plans on how to tackle delinquency in situ.
“This means that the school in question would take the social environment of the area or town into account, and it won’t be a” universal approach, he said. “One area has this social structure, another has a different situation.”