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Chile: Congress Approves Draft Legislation to Combat Bullying in Schools

(Sept. 21, 2011) On September 7, 2011, Chile's Congress approved draft legislation (Biblioteca del Congreso Nacional de Chile (BCN) site (Sept. 7, 2011)) that would amend the General Law on Education (GLE) (Ley 20370, amended by Decreto con Fuerza de Ley No. 2, July 2, 2010, BCN) to establish clear definitions, procedures, and penalties for school violence and bullying.

The Law defines bullying as any repeated aggression or harassment that occurs in or outside the educational institution, by one student or a group towards another, causing mistreatment, humiliation, or fear. Bullying may be perpetrated in person or through any means, including cyber-bullying (GLE, art. 16b).

Under the amended Law, teachers, school authorities and their assistants, parents, and students have the responsibility of creating a healthy school environment that prevents any type of bullying. They are required to report any situation of physical or psychological violence, aggression, or harassment affecting a student, according to the schools' internal rules and regulations. If the school authorities do not adopt the disciplinary or corrective measures required under their respective internal rules and regulations, they may be sanctioned with a fine of up to 50 unidades tributarias mensual (UTM), which is about US$4,000 (GLE, art. 16d). (The UTM, a monetary unit expressed in Chilean pesos that is updated monthly for inflation by law, is used for tax purposes and to determine fines. The September 2011 UTM is 38,557 Chilean pesos (about US$80). The rate is available from the Chilean Tax Administration official website (last visited Sept. 19, 2011).)

In order to carry out these responsibilities, the school management staff, teachers, and their assistants will be trained in the promotion of a good school environment and in conflict management (GLE, art. 16.E).

Educational institutions are required to create a Committee on a Good School Environment (Comité de Buena Convivencia Escolar) that will be in charge of managing and taking all the measures needed to secure a non-violent school life (GLE, transitory final provision).

Chilean President Sebastián Piñera promulgated the Law on September 8, stating that it is designed to create and encourage school communities that are based on tolerance, respect, friendship, and camaraderie. (Presidente Piñera Promulgó Ley Sobre Violencia Escolar, NACIÓN.CL (Sept. 8, 2011).)