President signs anti-bullying law

Manila, Philippines -- A person engaged in bullying in school may face disciplinary action or even possible criminal charges under a new law signed by President Aquino.

Republic Act No. 10627 prohibits bullying in elementary and secondary schools and authorizes school authorities to slap appropriate sanctions against the perpetrators.

RA 10627, the Anti-Bullying Act of 2013, was signed by the President last September 12 and will take effect 15 days after publication in two newspapers.

Under the law, bullying is defined as "any severed or repeated use by one or more students of a written, verbal or electronic expressions or a physical act or gesture, or any combination thereof, directed at another student that has the effect of actually causing or placing the latter in reasonable fear of physical or emotional harm or damage to his property."

Bullying also involves actions that create a hostile environment at school for the other student, infringes on his rights, or disrupts the education process of a school.

Physical contact such as punching, pushing, showing, kicking, slapping, tickling, headlocks, inflicting school pranks, teasing, fighting and use of weapon are prohibited acts of bullying. Cyber-bullying or any bullying done through electronic means is also unlawful.

RA 10627 also requires all elementary and secondary schools to adopt policies to prevent and address the acts of bullying in their institutions. They must inform their respective schools division superintendents in writing about the anti-bullying policies within six months from the effectivity of the law.