One in four pupils in Cyprus have experienced bullying, with girls at a higher risk than boys, according to the findings of ongoing research of the University of Cyprus.

During a recent event sponsored by the education ministry Associate professor of Developmental Psychology at University of Cyprus Costas Fantis presented the highlights of research into violence and delinquency in schools.

The research examines the relationship between violence in school and various parameters linked to the school and family environments, the broader societal context, and individual factors concerning pupils, their parents and teachers.

One in four of respondents said they have fallen victim to intimidation, while one in ten said they have bullied others. A standout find was that girls run a higher risk of victimisation – 26.6 per cent compared to 19.4 per cent for boys.

Similar results were seen relating to online bullying.

Additionally, 10 per cent of children said they are being marginalised by their peers. This included being shunned, disregarded, ostracised and mocked.

During his talk, Fantis said marginalised children present a higher risk of developing behaviours like aggression or oppositional defiance disorder.

Exposure to school violence considerably raises the chances for lower performance, development of psychiatric disorders, and low quality of life. Stress, anxiety and even depression are possible outcomes.

The research also found that approximately three per cent of pupils present with “extreme forms of problematic behaviour, delinquency and aggression.”

According to Fantis’ research, the violence is also directed toward teachers – 26.8 per cent said they were subjected to some form of violence from pupils, and 16.3 per cent from pupils’ parents.

In his own remarks at the event, Education Minister Prodromos Prodromou said that in dealing with the issue they are working with other government departments – the junior ministry for social welfare, the police’s drug squad and the police force.

The ministry will be launching a pilot programme of district school counselors, starting with the Pancyprian Gymnasium.