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MPs discuss school security after pupil abductions

The abduction of two 11-year-old pupils from their Larnaca school on Tuesday has revealed that there is a security gap in state schools for half an hour in the morning between the time parents drop their children off and the start of classes, MPs said on Wednesday.

Following a meeting of the House education committee that discussed behind closed doors issues concerning the abduction of the two boys, MPs said that the concerns focus on the time between 7am and 7.30am.

“Gaps have been revealed, such as for instance, who bears responsibility when a school opens its gates at 7am, while teaching starts at 7.30am?” the head of the committee, Kyriacos Hadjiyiannis asked.

He said that during that half hour, the children are on school grounds but no one can say who bears responsibility for all the potential risks within the school space.

“Essential questions arise. All this must now be addressed […] so that there is no question of security in the school area,” Hadjiyiannis said.

Concrete proposals were needed, he said. He added that the education ministry had informed the committee that it was open to suggestions and that it is ready to finance proposals that could address the matter.

Hadjiyiannis said that there were teachers supervising the school grounds during the time the abduction took place.

“They were supervising, and yet this incident happened. What we are saying is that this must trouble us and see how to fix it,” he said, adding that the schools’ responsibility starts at 7am when they open their gates to pupils.

He said he did not blame anyone but that the role of the child-minder needed to be reviewed and upgraded.

The MP said that there had been similar incidences in the past concerning family abductions.

As to how this security gap can be addressed, he said: “We will have to see who, currently working (in state schools), can cover this need either as child-minders or through service plans.”

He did not rule out the possibility of installing surveillance cameras.

“Each school ought to and must have an overall risk management plan concerning the school area for the safety and health of both pupils and staff,” he said.

 

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