The Parliamentary Education Committee convened on Wednesday, September 27, to address the pressing issue of school bullying and juvenile delinquency. During the meeting, discussions revolved around both the extent of these problems and the strategies presented by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, and Youth to combat them.
Concerns were raised by parliamentarians and relevant authorities about the existing legislation regarding school bullying, which was passed in 2020 but has yet to be effectively implemented.
Kyriaki Lamprianidou, the director of the Department of Vulnerable Persons Management at the police headquarters, presented data indicating that in 2022, the police handled 508 criminal cases involving juvenile offenders. Lamprianidou clarified that this number was consistent with previous years and emphasized that these cases encompassed more than just school bullying.
Addressing the issue of non-cooperation from parents in cases of school bullying, delinquency, or child abuse, Lamprianidou explained that the police can initiate investigations independently. However, if both the minor and the parents refuse to cooperate, authorities face challenges in pursuing the case. Such scenarios are unfortunately common, and Myria Vassiliou, the president of POed, noted that the organization often resorts to making complaints to the police in such instances.
The Ministry of Education conveyed its plans and actions to the committee through a letter. A spokesperson for the ministry emphasized the importance of gathering information and intervening in a focused and meaningful manner. They pointed out that there are established protocols and procedures for addressing these issues. The spokesperson estimated that there are approximately 15 annual complaints about bullying within schools, though this number may fluctuate as complaints arise primarily through personal student interviews.
Christina Ioannou, a senior Educational Psychologist at the Ministry of Education, highlighted a specific profile for students who may become delinquent, which can be identified as early as kindergarten. Academic underachievement was cited as an initial indicator, emphasizing the need for collaborative efforts among educational psychologists and relevant services. Ioannou emphasized that family-related factors are strongly linked to school violence, particularly in dysfunctional families with either lax or excessively strict rules, or those where any form of domestic violence occurs.
In response to queries regarding parenting, Dimitris Taliadoros, president of OELMEK, suggested that modern parents often lack the time required for effective child-rearing, impacting the quality of their relationships with their children. These discussions shed light on the multifaceted nature of the challenges posed by school bullying and juvenile delinquency.