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Teachers want help to deal with young delinquents

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By Evie Andreou

THE teachers’ union POED has asked for more support from the education ministry to deal with cases of youth delinquency.

In a letter sent to the ministry, the union said that it receives daily reports from schools of “intensified unpleasant situations” that many times “become uncontrollable and may lead up to the paralysis of the school.”

An increase in youth delinquency cases has been recorded as early as the age of kindergarten, the letter said, while at the same time a decrease is seen in funds aimed at supporting schools to provide extra teaching time, like tutors hired especially to assist with youth delinquency.

POED suggests that remedial teaching be brought back, enrichment of the disciplinary code, reinforcement of ministry services that deal with such issues, cooperation with the Children’s Rights commissioner, re-adjustment of the personal timetable of the student, the creation of education and support centres in all districts and the increase of the budget for the hiring of school escorts.

“Even though delinquency cases may be considered as isolated, every child is a whole community; his or her family, school, and the wider community it lives in. Children with aggressive behaviour may harm themselves and other children, so we must protect them and the other children,” POED’s General secretary Apostolos Apostolides told the Cyprus Mail.

He added that it is not uncommon for troubled children when they feel overwhelmed by a situation to hurt themselves or other children.

“We are not pointing the finger at all 43,000 students, but there are children who exhibit very difficult behaviours that cause serious problems in the classroom and disrupt its operation,” Apostolides said.

He said that the union has commissioned studies on the ways the problem may be alleviated.

The head of primary education at the Education ministry, Elpidoforos Neocleous, said that in proportion to the 600 schools that operate today delinquency related incidents are very few.

“The ministry is monitoring these cases and is making the necessary steps through its programmes and its various units, like the district committees of special education, and the educational psychology service,” Neocleous said.

POED is asking for the institution of the delinquency tutors to be brought back.

This was introduced the previous school year, Neocleous said, “and we assigned 16 schools to eight teachers, but this year because 70 unemployed teachers were hired temporarily by the ministry to assist school units, we didn’t implement the institution.”

“In extreme cases, when children exhibit severe behaviour we advise that they leave the school environment so that they do not negatively affect the whole unit until the issue is addressed in cooperation with the parents and we send tutors to the home so that they do not fall behind in their lessons,” Cleanthous said.

POED in another letter asked that teachers do not report suspected cases of child sexual abuse directly to the police, but through the ministry because in many cases, teachers that report such cases, usually become the target of the parents.

“So instead of focusing on the child, we end up focusing more on the teacher that receives threats,” Apostolides said.

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