Teaching children about personal boundaries is an important part of online safety. Individuals who present a risk to children usually begin by breaking boundaries with them and trying to normalize inappropriate behaviour — this is true for both the offline and online worlds.
It is important that children be aware of other people’s behaviour (i.e. trusting their instincts and being aware of behaviour that seems “weird” or “creepy”). Teaching children about boundaries increases the likelihood of them recognizing if someone is behaving inappropriately or unsafely; and teaching them to tell a safe adult about behaviour that makes them feel uncomfortable increases the chances that they will tell someone about it.
Learning about personal boundaries should begin when children are very young. It is typical for children to regularly break boundaries – they are testing limits which helps them learn and develop. When your child crosses the line with others, it is important to point out, explain and correct the behaviour. It is equally important to acknowledge and respect your child’s limits. Re-establishing and negotiating boundaries is an ongoing process.
Personal boundaries are about providing a standard of measure for what is okay and not okay (safe and unsafe) when it comes to the relationships we have with other people. Having well-defined personal boundaries are what makes each person distinct in who they are and what they feel and think.
|Examples of breaking boundaries:|
|Continuing to touch someone who shows discomfort|
|Asking personal questions when you do not know someone well (online or offline)|
|Asking personal questions in front of others to embarrass a person|
|Children accessing or being exposed to adult material and information (e.g. movies, TV shows, websites, etc.)|
|Walking in on someone who is changing or using the bathroom|
|Sending or posting personal pictures online of others without their permission|
|Examples of respecting boundaries:|
|Respecting limits set by someone|
|Asking permission before using something that belongs to another person|
|Giving someone privacy to change or use the bathroom|
|Respecting someone’s private thoughts rather than being intrusive or demanding to know something that a person doesn’t want to share|
|Not sharing information online that has been shared in confidence|
The tips and other information provided herein is intended as general information only, not as advice. Readers should assess all information in light of their own circumstances, the age and maturity level of the child they wish to protect and any other relevant factors.