What is harassment?
Harassment is any form of unwanted and unwelcome behaviour which may range from mildly unpleasant remarks to physical violence and bullying - and no one should need to put up with it.
The Protection from the Harassment Act 1997 covers a wide range of behaviours and is the main criminal legislation dealing with the offence of harassment.
Section 1 (1) states a person must not pursue a course of conduct:
- which amounts to harassment of another; and
- which he knows or ought to know amounts to harassment of the other.
Harassment is not defined by the Act but can be defined as conduct causing alarm or causing distress. This can include speech. However, there must be a course of conduct, that is, the harassment must have occurred on at least two occasions.
Harassment is termed sexual harassment if the unwanted behaviours are linked to your gender or sexual orientation. The European Union definition of sexual harassment is “unwanted conduct of a sexual nature or other conduct based on sex affecting the dignity of men and women at work”. Racial harassment is when the behaviours are linked to your skin colour, race and cultural background and so on.
If you believe you are being harassed, report it to the police. If you are being harassed at your place work, you should, if possible, report this to your manager or employer. If you are being bullied at school or elsewhere, try telling someone in authority like a teacher.