31 January 2014 07:47

The government has made anti-bullying measures a top priority as it seeks to protect victims and young offenders, promote a healthy school environment and foster a culture of mutual respect, says Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou.
He was speaking at a conference launching a new campaign to combat bullying.
Bullying and cyber-bullying are a growing phenomenon in Cyprus, aggravated by the increase of various social problems that lead to a rise in violence and bullying.
In 2011-2012, 567 incidents of psychological abuse were recorded in gymnasiums and 346 in lyceums and technical schools. The following academic year (2012-2013), incidents at gymnasiums had increased to 678, while at lyceums and technical schools they were up to 1,168.
Nicolaou said the increase shows increased awareness as more incidents were reported than previously.
The minister said that dealing with cyber-bullying was also dealt with by the police within the framework of combating cyber crime, adding that some 6% of children aged nine to 16 fall victim to cyber-bullying, according to statistics.
"It is important that victims and witnesses are encouraged to speak up and report such incidents," said Nicolaou.
He said the aim is not to arrest offenders but to take measures against illegal behaviour and crime.
Nicolaou also referred to the measures that have been taken including programmes within the second national action plan for the prevention and combating of crime with a total of 217 actions.
Defence Minister Fotis Fotiou said that what was needed was collaboration, strategy and research.
He said the ministry and the National Guard are taking preventive measures while expert teams tackle the issue in army camps.
Police Chief Michalis Papageorgiou referred to police's involvement in cyber-bullying incidents through the Unit for Combating Money Laundering (MOKAS) and said that criminal prosecution is not the aim, however victims should be encouraged to report incidents.   
He said there was a need to speed up efforts for prevention and investigation of incidents and for coordination and mobilisation of the whole of society.  
Within the framework of the campaign, anti-bullying posters will be put up in all private and public schools, higher education institutes, army camps, all police stations, post offices and stadiums to help raise awareness.
The campaign is co-organised by the Justice Ministry with the support of the Education and Defence Ministry, the police, the Parents of Primary and High Education Association and GSP stadium.   


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