Public and Private Spaces
What children should know
Children should be able to identify public and private spaces that exist in homes, at school and other places where the child goes. Children should know they are entitled to have some privacy when they are in a space that belongs to them such as their bedroom or other private spaces such as bathrooms and toilets.
Why this is an important part of child sexual abuse prevention
If your child knows there are public and private spaces and that they are entitled to privacy when they, for example, have a shower, are getting changed or are in their bedroom, then it will make them more likely to be able to identify when someone doesn’t allow this opportunity. Introducing concepts of boundaries in relation to privacy educates children about their rights.
Ideas for having conversations on this concept
- Talk to your child about public and private spaces.
- Discuss the sorts of things that children would be likely to do in private. For example, having a shower, getting changed, going to the toilet.
- Negotiate with your child about how they can go about having privacy in their room. For example, you may negotiate that they can have 20 minutes a week with the door closed and if you want to talk to them during that time you will knock on the door. If your child shares a room then perhaps each child may be entitled to 20 minutes alone time in their room.
- Discuss ways that you and your child can indicate that they would like some privacy. For example, closing the door, putting up a do not disturb sign.
- Together, create door hangers for each of the rooms in the house that are private spaces. As you create each of these discuss how your child might like to use the door hanger, for example, when showering, using the toilet and in their bedroom. Explore the places in the house that are private for them. Together, you can draw a floor plan of your house and have your child mark all the places that are private on the plan.
- Your child may want to practise the concepts they have been learning about. Try not to overreact if they use them at inappropriate times, say if they are in trouble for example, and ask for “private time” in their bedroom. This behaviour will settle and the most important thing is that they understand they have the “right” to privacy.
- It could be helpful to use words like “in our family we all have the right to a place that is ours”. Model respecting your child’s privacy by asking “are the drawers in your bedroom private? Do you mind if I open them to put clothes away?”