Harassment and bullying: overview

This chapter explains about the different legal steps you can take under the civil law (non-criminal law) to deal with various kinds of harassment, bullying or intimidation. This includes harassment by strangers in the community through things like stalking you or sending you threatening letters. It also includes “cyberbullying”, which is where you’re harassed through texts, emails or online posts.

The chapter also explains about when serious cases of harassment or bullying can amount to a criminal offence, so that you can lay a complaint with the police.

The chapter is broken down into these three sections:

  • Harassment in the community: Getting protection under the Harassment Act – This section explains about getting a restraining order from the District Court, including:
    • what kinds of behaviour amount to “harassment”
    • how restraining orders will help
    • how to apply for an order
    • how to oppose an application that’s been made against you for a restraining order
    • what happens if a restraining order is breached.
  • Cyberbullying: New protections against online/digital harassment – This section explains about the new Harmful Digital Communications Act, including:
    • the new complaints and mediation agency
    • how to go to the District Court to get an order to deal with online/digital harassment
    • the new principles the Act has established for online/digital behaviour.
  • Going to the police: When the criminal law can help with harassment – The most serious cases of harassment or bullying can amount to a criminal offence. This section explains about these different offences, including:
    • “criminal harassment” under the Harassment Act
    • causing harm through “digital communications” – a new cyberbullying offence under the Harmful Digital Communications Act
    • other offences under the criminal law, like encouraging suicide.

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