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More needs to be done to stop violence in school says minister

Agriculture Minister Costas Kadis

Last year 120 incidents of juvenile delinquency were recorded in primary schools and as many in high schools, Education Minister Costas Kadis said on Tuesday.

The minister, who had a meeting with teenage school consultants at the office of Children’s’ Rights Commissioner, Leda Koursoumba, said his ministry finds these figures worrying.

A few days ago his ministry presented its policy on tackling juvenile delinquency which includes 20 measures and programmes “mainly for the prevention but also for proper handling” of these cases.

Among the measures is training teachers how to contribute to the prevention of these inci-dents and the handling of them once they occur. Another measure is the rapid response unit which goes to schools where incidents occur, and the educational psychology service.

“The fact that we are still discussing such events and these numbers, means the actions we take, even if they are plenty and have increased and have been strengthened lately, must be reinforced even more,” Kadis said.

Toward that direction, he said, is also useful the feedback from pupils themselves.

“We are troubled, we are trying and we must do much more,” Kadis said.

Commenting on the beating of a 16-year-old girl in Limassol by two other female students last week, the video of which was widely circulated on social media, Kadis said the school where the beating occurred is being supported by the rapid response unit and educational psycholo-gists.

He added that the case is also being investigated by the police and that at the moment there is nothing more to announce on the issue.

Members of the public, Kadis said, who may witness such an incident may call the 1460 hotline and report it anonymously.

Koursoumba expressed satisfaction as to the way both the ministry and the police are handling the case.

Minors too, she said, are answerable to the law but that the primary goal of criminal justice in such cases is rehabilitation, “to help these children through the consequences of their actions, be reintegrated as healthy members of society, and not ruin them”.

Koursoumba also made a plea for the discontinuation of the projection of the video in ques-tion. “It helps no one, it only does harm. It re-victimises the victim, and humiliates all other children who bear equal responsibility, both those exercising violence and those who watched and did nothing”.

The video also violates personal data, she said.

Police arrested three 16-year-old girls in connection with the beating last week, who were re-leased after being charged. The three girls are being investigated for assault and battery, pub-lic insults and causing a ruckus.

The school’s deputy principal who had intervened to stop the beating, was injured and was transferred to hospital, while the victim, who was also examined by a state doctor, was or-dered to wear a neck collar.

Sources from the girl’s family have said the 16-year-old has recently been the victim of at least four beatings.

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