All relevant bodies should act to prevent and deal with issues of violence in schools, Education Minister Athena Michaelidou said on Wednesday.

She was speaking after a discussion on security issues in education with the House education committee, prompted by several cases of vandalism reported this year.

“Today we took part in a discussion on the issues of violence and delinquency which occasionally affect our schools,” the minister told reporters.

She said the education ministry emphasised what is self-evident, “that violence is a multifaceted phenomenon that needs parallel treatment at different levels: individual, family, school and social.

“We know that the most serious issues are experienced in our schools during non-school hours and mainly by people who are not students,” she added.

The minister said that in this context, all relevant bodies need to develop the appropriate actions to effectively prevent and deal with these issues through coordinated and systematic actions, which should come as a result of integrated planning.

“As the ministry of education, we act mainly on a preventative level,” she said. “Our goal is for our students to develop from a very early age, from pre-school age, skills and attitudes for a safe school environment”.

To this end, the ministry employs integrated planning to empower teachers and students at many levels, through helping them develop appropriate communication skills, mutual respect, and rejection of extreme behaviours, Michaelidou said.

“Nevertheless, the phenomenon is still there, and we are obliged to tackle it immediately and systematically”.

The education minister said that to address this, the committee discussed a number of passive measures like CCTV, better lighting, alarm systems, and guardrails, “without delving into extreme situations, where our schools become prisons.

“Under no circumstances are our teachers and students there to live, act and operate in such a space,” she stressed.

Therefore, the matter is being treated as one of public safety and the protection of public property, and will be discussed with the data protection commissioner, she said.

Michaelidou said the committee will meet again on the matter, “to ensure our schools are safe spaces to learn and create”.