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Education minister says zero tolerance will be shown for sexual offences in schools

feature nick at present phaneromeni school educates 120 gymasium and primary school pupils
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The institutional framework for handling of sexual offences withing schools is being examined, Education Minister Prodromos Prodromos said on Sunday.

Speaking to the Cyprus News Agency, the minister said the ministry will show zero tolerance.

Commenting on incidents of sexual harassment or abuse in schools, Prodromou said “indeed, it is something that concerns us very seriously. It is inconceivable to have such phenomena within our schools.”

But he recognised that “within a population of more than ten thousand teachers and about a hundred thousand students, such unacceptable incidents inevitably occur,” underlining however that they would not be tolerated.

“These are our children and the ministry is determined to show zero tolerance.”

On Wednesday police confirmed they were investigating a second complaint of sexual abuse in schools by a teacher.

A high-school student in Nicosia had filed a complaint that she had been sexually abused by her female teacher while at school.

The report was made the previous week, but the teacher was not arrested because it was determined she would not obstruct the investigations.

Earlier this week a male secondary school teacher was remanded in custody for eight days as police investigate a complaint he had sexually abusing a female pupil in class at a Larnaca public school.

The minister said there are procedures in place for when such things occur and they should immediately be reported to the school directors or to the other authorities of the ministry.

“When we have complaints there are specific guidelines, a protocol to be followed,” Prodromou said.

A telephone line will be set up to make it easier to report incidents in schools. This is in addition to the phone line that operates at the Pedagogical Institute for incidents of online sexual harassment or incidents of child pornography, etc (1480).

The new line will be manned by specially trained staff.

How existing cases are handled is currently an issue under discussion also with the Attorney-general’s office, Prodromou said.

“Because, no matter how much there are specific procedures that we follow for the cases of certain teachers who are checked, in some very special cases questions arise”, he said.

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