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Costa Rican lawmakers submit anti-bullying bill

November 7, 2014

Legislators from three parties on Thursday submitted a draft aimed to prevent, respond to and eventually eradicate bullying in Costa Rican schools.

Bill No. 19,399 was drafted by Humberto Vargas, William Alvarado and Gerardo Vargas from the Social Christian Unity Party, Fabricio Alvarado from the National Restoration Party and Lorelly Trejos from the National Liberation Party.

The initiative establishes corrective actions including giving students demerits, sending notes to parents, and ordering mandatory psychological treatment for aggressors and victims.

It also provides disciplinary sanctions for school administrative staff and educators – including dismissal – if an investigation determines that they failed to properly address a student’s complaint.

Fabricio Alvarado said he expected schools to be open to implementing preventive measures and providing students with information regarding the severity of the problem in the country.

“It’s not just about repressive actions, it’s also about psycho-social and educational measures. That’s why we are proposing three types of actions: verbal sanctions, written sanctions and then mandatory psychological treatment for both the aggressor and the victim,” Alvarado said during a public presentation of the bill at the Legislative Assembly on Thursday evening.

Humberto Vargas said the Education Ministry (MEP) would be responsible for hiring specialized professionals for psychological treatment at public schools.

According to MEP, so far this year more than 100 bullying complaints have been reported at schools across the country. The figure was disclosed earlier this week by health experts participating in the National Health Congress. Psychiatrist Virginia Rosabal said Monday at the congress that Costa Rica has registered 21 suicides attributed to bullying in the last five years.

The bill now will be evaluated by the Assembly’s Technical Department and then will be sent for discussion in the Children and Adolescents Issues Commission.

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