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Cyprus Education

Bullied boy goes back to school without ministerial escort

THE education ministry is investigating an incident which ended with the transfer last week of a 13-year-old boy from Limassol to hospital with concussion after he was hit by another student, minister Costas Kadis said on Tuesday.

The story of 13-year-old high school student Constantinos emerged last week after he wrote an open letter, while in hospital, addressed to Kadis asking him to escort him back to school because he said he was afraid the boy who hit him would not be suitably punished. Tuesday was Constantinos’ first day back at school but he was not escorted by the minister as this would draw unwanted publicity and target the school, the minister and the Children Rights Commissioner Leda Koursoumba said.

Constantinos was admitted to hospital last Wednesday with concussion after he was hit by another student, whom he refers to in his letter as “the school bully”. The reason for the beating, the 13-year-old said was for “daring” not to pass the ball to him during gym class. According to reports, he grabbed Constantinos by the neck, pushed him into a wall and hit him on the head after they had words. The gym teacher, who was present at the time, pulled him off and called an ambulance.

This is the third school Constantinos has attended in two years, due to bullying, according to his mother, who spoke to Simerini.

“The problem is that he deviates from the norm. He is very polite, addresses people in plural, doesn’t swear, he is […] much more mature than other children his age, and this what scares (them) and makes him a target,” she said.

He transferred to his neighbourhood’s public high school earlier in the year from a private school upon his request, his mother said, because he was being bullied there too.

The ministry had said on Saturday they were investigating the incident and that the Emergency Response Team (OAP), which is designed to intervene in such cases to help schools and offer psychological support to pupils, would begin work on the case on Monday.

Kadis said on Tuesday that his ministry is investigating the incident. He added that media reports did not reflect the incident as it was.

He added that he will visit the school, “but away from the spotlight, to discuss with everyone involved how to proceed from now on, to ensure that things will evolve as smoothly as possible”.

Koursoumba too said that it is not in the best interest of any child for the incident to attract so much publicity.

She added that one must be very careful not to mistake all violent incidents as bullying, and that in this case, the probe findings will shed light on what happened.

Constantinos also urged in his letter other children who receive similar treatment in school, to speak up.
“[…], if you felt many times being humiliated, being hit, being made fun of, and you kept quiet hoping it wouldn’t happen to you again, stand up. Report it!”

The bully, the letter said, is not afraid of you hitting him or her. “His greatest fear is for you not being afraid of him”.

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