A Bill of Law was approved yesterday in the Council of Ministers that provides for the criminalization of school violence, a phenomenon generally called bullying. The proposal, which now goes on to discussion with the social partners before arriving at the Assembly of the Republic, provides that a student over 16 years of age who is the author of one of the crimes typified as bullying can be sentenced to prison terms of up to five years.
Penalties can be aggravated in cases where the outcome is the victim’s death (between 3 and 10 years old) or when there is a serious offense to physical integrity (between 2 and 8 years old).
When the perpetrators are under the age of 16 (and over 12), the criminal law does not apply. The law provides for educational guardianship measures. Contacted by TeK, the Ministry of Education confirmed that the new legislation will also apply to cases of cyberbullying, when violence is exercised in the Web space, such as social networks or other platforms. «All forms of bullying are enshrined in the proposed law «, guaranteed the ministry.
Cyberbullying is a topic on the agenda with the increasing relevance of young people’s use of online services, such as social networks, virtual worlds, video services and others. The success of these services has led to the problem of bullying for the Internet and school violence, essentially in the form of psychological pressure, for cyberspace.
There are several international initiatives to raise awareness of the problem – the European Commission last year marked Safe Internet Day with the launch of a campaign – and an effort by several countries to minimize the effects of the phenomenon.
As the ministry describes in the statement released yesterday «the new crime of school violence encompasses the phenomenon currently designated as bullying whose effects, in addition to those immediately produced on the personal integrity of the victims, affect the functioning of schools and the daily lives of families «
The typification of the new crime aims, in addition to punishment, to produce a deterrent effect, says the same source.