San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Costa Rican lawmakers submit anti-bullying bill

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.

Contact L. Arias at

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Ken Morris

I don’t object to the apparent intention of this bill, and depending upon its specific language could favor it, but a couple reservations immediately spring to mind.

First, what is bullying? It sure seems a nebulous term that can cover everything from the normal teasing that kids do and deal with daily to some outrageously harmful stuff. I would hate to be a teacher forced to determine what is and isn’t bullying, and am not convinced that a law can define it clearly enough to be of much use.

Second, Costa Rica’s legal faith in psychologists is amazing, and I wish it would stop passing laws that are a full employment act for psychologists. Sure, psychologists can probably do some good sometimes, but their effectiveness isn’t well documented and I seriously doubt that counseling is the panacea that the lawmakers seem to believe it is.

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Steve Meno

Yes especially against extrajerno kids. My kids have experience much discrimination in their colegio. Name calling and attacks. We have lived here for almost 9 years. But still wouldn’t be anywhere else.
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