A secondary school student has filed a complaint that she was sexually harassed and abused in a classroom during school hours, police said on Wednesday.
But the report was later denied by the education ministry who said that “following an investigation by the police, there was no sexual harassment”.
Investigations started after the student herself lodged an official complaint in the presence of her parents on May 17 in Nicosia.
Police spokesman Christos Andreou told CyBC radio early on Wednesday that the girl was sexually harassed and abused by two other minors, reportedly her classmates. Reports mentioned a third perpetrator, also a minor, who was not from the school.
The harassment took place in the school premises one morning around 11am, Andreou said, explaining the case remains under investigation over a week later.
However, a few hours later, the education ministry, who had been notified about the matter, issued a statement rubbishing the student’s claims.
“The school unit handled the matter, in cooperation with the police, in an appropriate manner,” the ministry said.
It added the issue of misconduct found will be handled by the school unit and further investigation will be made into the presence of an unauthorised person on the school premises.
The complaint comes against a backdrop of a series of sexual harassment incidents involving students and teachers. Organised parents last year issued a statement calling for the investigation of sexual harassment and abuse complaints in schools to be expedited.
“As parents, we express our deep concern for the safety and wellbeing of our children in their schools, the place where they should be able to feel safe and secure,” the statement by the Pancyprian Federation of Parents’ Associations had said.
At the time Education Minister Prodromos Prodromou said such sexual harassment is inevitable considering the large number of the school population.
“Within a population of more than ten thousand teachers and about a hundred thousand students, such unacceptable incidents inevitably occur,” he said, adding that the ministry will show “zero tolerance”.
Meanwhile, in April, MPs called for sex education programmes in schools, which would aim to educate children on how to recognise and navigate abusive behaviours.