Public and Private
Some young people need to learn about
• Private body parts (when it is ok to touch yourself, others)
• Private and public places and appropriate behaviour
• Sharing private information (e.g telling the bus driver about having a period)
Input generally starts at home with very young children identifying private body parts.
If children start to touch other people (particularly private body parts), this needs to be addressed by the school and parent in a co-ordinated way. Aspects of Private and Public need to be taught from early childhood through puberty and into young adulthood. Prior to puberty, children should learn who they can talk to about body changes and other private things
Some young people grow in to adults without this knowledge and some behaviours (exposing private body parts in public, touching other people’s private body parts without consent) can lead to being charged under the Sexual Offences Act.
Teachers will teach about Body Parts and Public and Private in class as part of Relationships, Sexual Health and Parenthood.
Parents have the advantage of talking about body parts, including private body parts, at bathtime and bedtime when they help their child get dressed and undressed.
Children and young people must have some private time at home where they can do private things. They may need actual photographs of rooms they are familiar with (their own classroom, bedroom, bathroom) to identify Public and Private and appropriate behaviour. This information can be supported by a social story used at home and at school to provide consistency.
.A Relationships circle can be drawn and developed to help young people to map which people are in their lives, what their relationship is, and what would be appropriate or inappropriate behaviours with each person. From this they can identify eg ‘who can I tell about my period? Who can I talk to about having an erection?’ and the differences between public and private conversations.