Dealing with juvenile crime is a priority for the government, which will not stand by and allow the phenomenon to spread, Social Cohesion and Family Minister Sofia Zacharaki said in an interview with the Athens-Macedonian News Agency released on Sunday.
She noted that violence in schools and juvenile delinquency, which can lead to criminality, are high on the government’s agenda and acknowledged that the post-Covid period had brought unprecedented behaviour to the surface, especially among teens.
Asked what action the government is taking to deal with juvenile crime, which is increasing both globally and in Greece, Zacharaki said it was imperative to clearly define criminality, delinquency and violence in schools and noted that the problem in Greece centred mainly around sports and school violence.
“For us, as the state, there is no complacency. Dealing with crime among juveniles is a national matter and we will not stand by as observers allowing this phenomenon to spread,” she pointed out, adding that Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis had taken a personal interest in this issue.
She outlined the measures taken, in and outside of schools, to address the problems while also highlighting the important role played by experts and civil society, as well as local government.
“This phenomenon needs immediate action and we will not deal with it bureaucratically,” she said, while adding that all political parties need to be involved, and that the aim was “a society that embraces the child, so it feels there is protection and parents know that there can be advice and guidance from experts.”
Zacharaki said the recent arrest figures of the Hellenic Police showed an alarming trend, with violence between minors now become an almost daily phenomenon and agreed that the isolation during Covid lockdowns had played a role in this, stunting children’s socialisation and breaking down relationships and bonds within families.
She noted the need to adopt good practices from abroad and encourage actions to strengthen the institution of the family and help integrate offending minors into society.
The minister also emphasised the scourge of bullying in schools, saying victims of bullying must be encouraged to speak up and report it and schools must help foster that defuse violence and encourage empathy and volunteerism in children.
Regarding the future, the minister expressed confidence that, with the prime minister having raised the issue to a national matter, cooperation on all sides can bring tangible results in terms of prevention, strengthening children and the social integration of minors who exhibit delinquency.