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Demetriou: bill sends resounding message of no tolerance for bullying

annita demetriou (4)
Disy leader Annita Demetriou wrote to the president asking him to call a meeting of the national council

House president Annita Demetriou said on Wednesday that parliament “is sending a resounding message of no tolerance for bullying”, as a bill to criminalise bullying at school, at work and in the army was put to the House legal committee.

The bill was put forward jointly by Demetriou and Akel MP Andreas Pasiourtides, with those found guilty of bullying set to face up to a year in prison or a fine of €2,000 or both.

Demetriou said the text of the bill “provides for both preventative and reactive measures and provides for the criminalisation of abusive behaviours”.

“The criminalisation for persistent abusive behaviour, as society’s response to such very disturbing phenomena which have very serious consequences for the bully, the target and their families, is something I feel is imperative,” she added.

In addition to the potential prison sentences and fines set to be handed down should the bill pass into law, she said “there is also a provision under the Children’s Act for special treatment of children involved in such acts to avoid a prison sentence.”

Such a decision will be “left to the discretion of the court”, she added.

“The bill criminalises harassment, psychological manipulation, and gaslighting,”she said on bullying in the workplace.

“Workplace bullying is defined as repeated unfavourable treatment or other intimidating contact or behaviour which diminishes the dignity of the victim, by a hierarchical superior or other employee.”

Speaking on bullying in the army, she said the bill defines army bullying as “any behaviour by a superior which deviates from the usual spirit of toughening-up and discipline in the field and consists of psychological or physical violence, which aims to humiliate.”

Pasiourtides also spoke at the meeting, saying the latest draft of the bill “addresses concerns which were expressed during previous discussions”.

“I would dare say that this bill is ready to go even tomorrow to the House for a vote,” he said.

“We all have a common will and understanding that this legislation is necessary today, because the criminal offence of bullying is absent from our statute books.”

Regarding the issue of potential prison sentences for children aged 14 and above, he said “people from the age of 14 are criminally responsible, while child psychologists have pointed out that children from the age of four come into contact with the concept of what bullying is and how they should behave.”

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