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25 June, 2024
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Concerns rise over passive response to student brawl in high school

''Some individuals were even placing bets.''

Ioanna Kyriakou

The recent incident involving the assault of a 12-year-old girl by two 14-year-old girls at a Nicosia secondary school has sparked significant concerns regarding our societal response to acts of violence and intimidation. On September 19, following the conclusion of classes, a distressing altercation unfolded outside the school premises involving three female students, who were observed physically engaging due to personal differences. Shockingly, their fellow students recorded the incident on their mobile devices without intervening, subsequently circulating the video among peers. Equally troubling is the presence of adults, reportedly parents picking up their children, who witnessed the incident. The altercation ceased only when a courageous woman intervened. Local authorities were alerted by a nearby resident, and statements have been obtained from individuals involved thus far.

"Abstaining from intervention"

Loizos Constantinou, President of the Middle School Parents Federation, expressed deep concern about the incident and questioned the collective societal response. He asked, "Where is our society headed when we witness such events passively? We cannot stand idly by and allow others to be victimized. Some individuals were even placing bets." Speaking to "K," Constantinou recounted an incident where an elderly woman, seeking to protect her granddaughter, exited her vehicle to intervene, only to be discouraged by another mother who told her, "Don't interfere; let them handle it themselves." He criticized such behavior as unacceptable for society. Responding to queries regarding the presence of teachers at the scene, Constantinou noted that high schools and junior high schools lack regulations mandating a teacher's presence at school exits at the conclusion of classes. Typically, there is a security guard; however, schools often have multiple entrances and exits. He emphasized the need for individuals to exercise responsibility in their actions and cautioned against the impracticality of stationing guards everywhere. He clarified that the incident did not occur within the school premises, making it difficult to attribute any shortcomings to the school's performance.

Penalties for the schoolgirls

The penalties imposed on students in such incidents are stipulated in the school by-laws. Constantinou disclosed that all three female students involved received suspensions as penalties. The student who was assaulted received a two-day suspension, while the other two students received a four-day suspension. It is important to note that the school principal is authorized to issue suspensions of up to four days. More severe penalties necessitate referral to the disciplinary committee. Constantinou clarified that a series of alternative measures must be exhausted before imposing a suspension, including recommendations, reprimands, community service, expulsion, and ultimately permanent suspension, which requires a decision by the school's faculty association. Regarding further measures to address violence and delinquency in schools, Constantinou mentioned an ongoing dialogue on the issue and the development of a code currently being prepared by the Ministry of Education. Additionally, on September 27, the Parliamentary Committee on Education will convene to address the extent of bullying in schools and the Ministry's plans and actions to combat it. Finally, Constantinou emphasized the importance of emphasizing prevention and addressing the issue proactively, along with providing support to children exhibiting violent behavior. He concluded by asserting that children's mistakes reflect the weaknesses of their parents.

[This article was translated from its Greek original]

Cyprus  |  bullying  |  education

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