Parents and teacher unions are concerned over a spike in incidents of violence and bullying at Cyprus schools, calling on authorities to step up measures to protect students and staff.
According to the Federation of Cyprus Parents Associations, some worrying incidents have taken place in high schools in the past month, including sexual harassment and bullying cases.
In comments to news site Philenews, the head of the federation, Charalambos Dionysiou, said the situation is out of control, arguing that authorities should review measures as they are not working.
“When we take our children to school, we expect them to be safe.
“Teachers and the Education Ministry should be responsible for this”, said Dionysiou.
He mentioned a recent case when a group of high school students left to pay a visit to another neighbouring school, causing damage to property.
Dionysiou said that parents also have their share of responsibility, emphasising the need to supervise their children, especially when using the internet.
“Many students create various groups on social media, through which they organise attacks and bully other children.
“We know that many children live through bullying nightmares,” said Dionysiou.
Secondary education teachers’ union OELMEK has requested security guards at schools.
According to the president of OELMEK, Costas Hadjisavvas, high schools often become targets of attacks from students outside school hours, as there are no guards.
Politis daily reported that a female high school student had been sexually harassed by a student from another school with assistance from some of her classmates.
Allegedly, the girl was pushed into a corner by a group of boys, who were ‘touching her in the abdominal area’.
The Education Ministry said that the case did not involve sexual harassment and was dealt with appropriately.
In November, a Larnaca district court handed an 18-month jail term, suspended for three years, to three men found guilty of causing the death of a 16-year-old boy in 2019 after they had bullied him into consuming large quantities of alcohol.
The three men, now aged 20 from Oroklini, and two 19-year-olds from Larnaca and Livadia, were found guilty of causing Panayiotis Stefani’s death through negligence.