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Anti-bullying drive for schools, workplace, army

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Bullying at school, work or the army will no longer be tolerated as MPs push to pass legislation to make intimidation a criminal offence.

House Speaker Annita Demetriou and AKEL MP Andreas Pasiourtides have tabled a bill that will see offenders face up to a year in prison or a fine of €2,000 if passed into law.

According to the bill, “school bullying is defined as the persistent and intentional exercise of psychological violence by one or more students in a school or other related area at the expense of a student who becomes a target, which may also include the exercise of physically abusive behaviour.”

The bill also describes bullying as the spreading of malicious rumours, publication of personal data, threats or blackmail, hitting, and the use of abusive expressions, or the taunting of the victim’s race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender orientation, or other characteristic.

The legislation foresees that criminal proceedings can be initiated for school bullies aged 14 and above.

“As is well known, school bullying as a phenomenon takes on increasingly alarming dimensions in today’s societies among minors in school and/or other related spaces, where students congregate”, said the note accompanying the bill.

“School violence differs from “teasing” between friends in the context of play, which has no intention of causing physical or mental pain, in contrast to school bullying… In this respect, school bullying is intended to cause fear, disturbance, isolation, harm and physical or psychological pain or other similar conditions,” it added.

The bill also criminalises bullying in the workplace and the army. Workplace bullying can entail mobbing and gaslighting, among other forms of intimidation.

The charity Hope for Children welcomed the news, which said in an announcement: “It is important to strengthen programmes and mechanisms for intervention against and prevention of violent behaviour among children.”