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Laws only on paper for juvenile offenders-231 students with criminal records

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Νόμοι μόνο στα &chi ;αρτια για ανorλικους παραβατες-231 μαθητες με ποινικo μητρoο

At a time when the concern and reflection, regarding the incidents of violence and delinquency within the school units, which unfortunately have become a daily phenomenon, new evidence comes to intensify the concerns. Specifically, according to the Police, for 2021 there were 231 cases of serious crimes, including rape and sexual abuse, in which the perpetrators were minors.

This was heard at the session of the Human Rights Committee, in which discussed the issue of school bullying and incidents of violence, in which victims and perpetrators are minors. The facts were reported by Kyriaki Lambrianidou, head of the Domestic Violence and Child Abuse Office of the Police Headquarters, who added that the problem is big, especially with regard to young offenders.

These numbers intensify the feeling of insecurity, both for students and for parents, who send their children to school, believing that they are in a safe environment. Adding more fuel to the fire is the fact that since 2020, when the regulations on violence and delinquency in schools were passed, until today, the law has not been implemented in its entirety, except for some provisions.

However, it is generally accepted, by all parties involved, that there should be reinforcement of school units, in terms of specialist school psychologists, who will be able to help children, whether they are victims or perpetrators, to deal with these incidents in the best possible way, with the best interests of the students in mind.

“Big problem”

In her deposition, Ms. Lambrianidou noted that the problem is big, although based on the data they have in front of them, there are no statistics showing that the victim is also under 18, but only the perpetrator. However, this is not a factor for complacency, as in the 231 cases, the offenses investigated against them are sexual abuse, rape, causing grievous bodily harm, threats to kill, robbery.

Ms. Lambrianidou clarified that there is no evidence to prove how many cases occurred within the school units, stressing that in case a minor is arrested for this specific matter, then the Social Welfare Services are informed, as well as his guardian, the lawyer and their curators , where at the moment this role is played by police officers.

Regarding the incidents presented in schools, Ms. Lambrianidou noted that the Police are not called for all cases, except for serious ones, such as the incident at the Linopetra High School, last Friday, while the goal is not to need interventions, as a feeling of fear is created in students when they see uniformed police officers in schools.

The fact that there are students in schools who have been arrested for sexual abuse or drug trafficking was also confirmed by president of the organized parents of Secondary Education, Charalambos Dionysiou, who in his own intervention indicated that the existing legislation does not allow the authorities to send the specific students to accommodation centers and then rejoin the schools. Mr. Dionysiou added that the children are simply expelled from one school to another, transferring the problem elsewhere, instead of solving it.

Regarding the problem of violence and delinquency, the president of the Confederation of Secondary Education Parents' Associations emphasized that it is intense and worrying, because the incidents are increasing daily, while many of them are not reported and do not see the light of day. The parents, for their part, suggest that an evaluation of prevention measures and suspension measures should be carried out, while they consider that the best method of eliminating these phenomena is through early intervention, from the kindergarten.

Mr. Dionysiou clarified that it is imperative to introduce courses that develop spiritual cultivation, indicating that at the moment the bet is to succeed in implementing the four months, with the result that the remaining courses will be set aside. In the meantime, the representative of the organized parents noted that an important factor that erodes the problem is the fact that many students join Secondary Education with many learning problems.

In the meantime, another suggestion of the parents is how to join the schools that are facing a problem, social workers, but also more educational psychologists,   to help the situation.

He sent many recommendations to the Ministry of Commissioner for the Protection of the Rights of the Child

For her part, the representative of the office of the Commissioner for the Protection of the Rights of the Childindicated that there is legislation on intra-school violence, which was passed in 2020, while there is also the law passed in 2021, which regulates matters for incidents of violence, with the perpetrator being a minor, and the Commissioner has positioned herself and her opinion is that it should focus on prevention. The representative of the office of Despos Michailidou added that the Commissioner considers that the co-competent agencies of the state must develop actions together, so that they act immediately and in a coordinated manner.

It was also mentioned that there is a need for the presence of experts in the schools, who will have substantial involvement with the children and parents, while it was emphasized that the Commissioner has made recommendations to the Ministry of Education, several times. It was added that some things work, some others, due to the uniqueness of each school, do not work, with the representative of the Commissioner's Office stressing that there must be flexibility in the intervention procedures, depending on the school.

The President of the Committee and Member of Parliament of AKEL, Irini Charalambidou, taking the floor, expressed the opinion that it is unimaginable to hear that teachers were beaten in their efforts to protect children or to enforce order, raising the question of whether there is a reflection on the fact that the existing measures are not working. The representative of the office of Ms. Michailidou noted that the Commissioner has found that the interventions that are being made are piecemeal, that is, each service makes its own intervention and it is not from everyone.

The position of the Ministry of Education< /p>

Taking the floor, the representatives of the Ministry of Educationindicated that the phenomenon of violence in schools is complex and multifactorial, emphasizing, at the same time, that the Ministry has been conducting research for the last two years to record the factors, so that it can deal with these phenomena. The Committee heard that there are factors that concern the child, the family, the school and the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Education has given instructions to deal with the phenomenon in each unit. The representatives of the Ministry of Education, continuing, noted that many actions are being taken to train teachers, while they argued that there is room for improvement.

Ms. Charalambidou raised the question if there are cases where both the victim and the perpetrator should receive support, does the school ask for help for both? To get an answer from the representatives of the Ministry that indeed the abuser also needs help and there is a protocol that is followed in these cases and the school unit deems it necessary, then contact the Educational Psychology Service. It was noted that the one tool that exists is that each school has its own educational psychologist, who evaluates each child, what is needed and gives advice to the school, how to manage each incident.

The other tool, said the representatives of the Ministry of Education, is that assistance is given to the school management, since a main factor is the creation of a good school climate. In this direction, the psychologist helps implement the protocols and help the children feel safer. At the same time, he added, prevention programs are implemented, there are experiential workshops to normalize relationships between children who may have a problem with each other, while the psychologist provides support to the family as well. Regarding the clinical psychologists, which was mentioned in the session, it was mentioned by the representatives of the Ministry of Education that if the educational psychologist deems it necessary that the child should be referred to a clinical psychologist, he will do so.

The president of the Commission made another intervention, putting on the table that a child who is a bully is very likely to be influenced by the home, which means that he experiences violence at home, stressing that this child should receive treatment so that he he can overcome his own issues and then overcome the incidents at home. The AKEL member of parliament asked to know what happens when such a case is identified and if the solutions that exist are satisfactory and not superficial.

At that time, the Ministry of Education stated that the child would be referred to a clinical psychologist, but it was necessary for the parents to cooperate. When asked what happens if the parents are problematic and do not cooperate, what is done, the representatives of the Ministry of Education stated that the Social Welfare Services take over, while when asked why the first step, when these cases are identified, is not to inform the HKE, the answer was that many times, an educational psychologist will write a letter to HKE to see the family and be able to see what's going on there.

The answers from the representatives of the Ministry of Education caused the annoyance of Irini Charalambidou, who noted that she cannot hold sessions and be theoretical. He referred, at this point, to the case of Stylianos, stressing that this baby committed suicide because no one did anything. There were sessions at the Human Rights Commission and they were humiliating because no one was taking responsibility. “I am not satisfied to hear only theoretical positions. The issue is how we protect children. And the abuser is often a minor. If we have an intervention we will have a healthy citizen, if not we might have a murderer”, he noted.

The position of the Ministry of Justice

The session was also attended by a representative of the Ministry of Justice, which indicated that it is a bit difficult to know which provisions of the law passed in 2020 and 2021, however it was emphasized that it provides for alternative ways of managing juvenile offenders. He indicated that among the methods in question are observation, monitoring by a social worker, the convening of the Children's Council, in which the child, the curator, the guardians, the social worker, the victim and any other person deemed necessary to participate participate. .

In response to a question as to whether an evaluation of the specific laws was carried out, the representative of the Ministry of Justice indicated that it was not done, but the Ministry requests information from the various services. It was admitted that there are gaps with implementation, because they are new institutions, while the Commission requested that an evaluation of the laws be sent within the next few weeks.

The laws are not implemented

In his own statement, the president of OELMEK, Konstantinos Konstantinopoulos, indicated that before they were in the Parliament, they had visited as an organization the High School of Linopetra, where the incident took place last Friday. He noted that if the teachers of the school had not helped to arrest the group of students who invaded and then, as physical barriers, to block a second group from entering, after they stood in front of the entrance and blocked it.

Mr. Konstantinopoulos noted that the law of 2020, to deal with delinquency in schools has not yet been implemented, stressing that a decision had to be taken by the Council of Ministers to do this and to date this decision has not been taken. He clarified, however, that there are provisions of the law that apply. This position of Mr. Konstantinopoulos was also confirmed by the representatives of the Ministry of Education.

The president of OELMEK, continuing his position, emphasized that this was one of the main points in the letter sent to the Ministry of Education, along with various other measures, to address the situation, because measures must be taken, given that delinquency has always existed , however after the pandemic these have intensified. As he indicated, students have been affected on many levels and in many cases, things are worrying and action needs to be taken. From their visits to the schools, noted Mr. Konstantinopoulos and the discussions with the teachers, it was found that the situation is difficult and this is intense.

The opinion of the teachers is that security guards should be placed in some schools, as is also the case in high schools, something they persistently request and in the event that this is not possible, that guards be placed in the schools that are needed, due to their particularities. As for one school psychologist per school, he indicated that this is not satisfactory, since it is impossible for one professional to catch up with 2,500 students. he noted that all attention has been turned to the four months and other important educational programs have been sidelined. When asked whether teachers feel safe to intervene when they observe an incident of violence between two students, Mr. Konstantinopoulos noted that they do not feel safe to do so at all.

Ms. Charalambidou, taking the floor, referred to the answer he received from the Minister of Education, to her question about the expulsion of more than sixty students, on the first day of the new school year, in which Mr. Prodromou indicated that the school is problematic, some parents, some students, but not the Ministry of Education, for the president of OELMEK to answer that there are no problematic schools, there are schools that need support.

Taking the floor, the president of OLTEK, Panagiotis Lysandrou,he noted that no matter what law is passed, no matter what actions are taken, if there is no evaluation of the results so far, so that the authorities can see that improvements need to be made, failure will surely come. He, for his part, noted that there are Directorates that avoid recording the incidents, because they are afraid that the name of the school will be damaged, while he noted that it is true that teachers also experience bullying from both parents and students.

The president of POED, Myria Vassiliou, in her own statement, indicated that schools and teachers have a role in preventing and dealing with these phenomena. Both levels need support from the Ministry of Education and reinforcement. Regarding the issue of prevention, Ms. Vassiliou indicated that actions are being taken to send a message to the children. Regarding the issue of treatment, the president of POED emphasized that they must help victims, abusers and spectators. One way to prevent this phenomenon is to reduce the number of children in classes. He also referred to an incident, based on a letter received from a school in Nicosia. As explained by Ms. Vassiliou, in a class with 25 students, one of them showed aggressive behavior and it is difficult for a teacher to deal with the situation and at the same time have to deal with the other 24 students.

Source: www.reporter.com.cy

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