As part of the Stranger Safety Awareness Program at The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation, we pay special attention to defining the concept of personal space. In an effort to properly illustrate the concept, we ask three students from the audience to join us at the front of the room. Once the students are in front of the audience, we then coach them to show the audience, without words, the meaning of the two words: “personal space”.
It is a lot of fun to watch the students ponder the meaning and slowly start to act out their demonstration. Some students point to their feet, others start to flap their arms, while still others start to spin in a circle. Once they have arrived at their wordless definition, we, the instructors, then respectfully invade their personal space in order to drive the point home.
Personal space is defined as the “bubble” around you, fingertip to fingertip as you extend your arms, all the way over your head, behind you and in front of you. It becomes important to list who may be invited into your personal space. Mom, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa, brother, sister, best friend, family pet, school nurse, teacher are a few top choices. This opens the opportunity for the further discussion that strangers must NEVER be permitted to enter this space. Additionally, if a stranger starts to move into that space, your child should be instructed to run, not walk, but run away to create as much distance as possible from that stranger. For these purposes, a stranger is anyone who you or your child have not been formally introduced and anyone that you do not know.
You may use this opportunity to discuss other topics such as good touch and bad touch (a very hot topic that is best introduced by a parent due to its intense personal nature) and physical bullying. As always, these lessons are meant to be thought-provoking and stimulate open communication.