Today the NSPCC launches the ‘Underwear Rule’ campaign to help parents protect their children from sexual abuse. ADAM LUKE finds out more.
Sexual abuse is not an easy topic to discuss with young people.
A new online YouGov poll shows that half of the parents of 5 to 17-year-olds questioned had never discussed the issue with their sons or daughters, and almost half of those that had described it as a “difficult conversation”.
NSPCC’s ‘Underwear Rule’ aims to make it easier for parents and carers to have conversations with primary schoolers about the subject. The campaign comes in the wake of the ongoing Jimmy Savile scandal and the court cases of other high profile figures.
Colin Peak, the charity’s regional head of service for the east of England, said: “The shocking case of Savile has horrified many parents and understandably it has heighted concerns around sexual abuse.
“But most abuse is closer to home and if we are to tackle this issue we must prevent it before it even starts. To do this we must educate our children about staying safe and speaking out. “Parents have told us they lack confidence in approaching this difficult but important issue. We’ve worked with parent groups to devise a simple, age appropriate way of making sure children speak up if something happens. It’s a quick conversation but could make a big difference.”
Today saw the launch of a six-week advertising campaign, aired on nearly 60 local radio stations throughout the UK, which will encourage parents to ‘talk pants’ to their children, and ask them to remember the five rules.
– Privates are private.
– Always remember your body belongs to you
– No means no
– Talk about secrets that upset you
– Speak up, someone can help
Julia Berrington is a counsellor operating out of The Clinic, High Street, St Neots, and previously worked in law enforcement as part of a child protection team.
She said: “I think anything that can highlight and remind parents and children about the dangers of sexual abuse is a good thing.
“In my job I see many adults who are presenting mental health problems in later life due to issues like this in their younger years.
“If we can intervene when they are at school are preferably before anything takes place then we will be preventing mental health problems at a later stage.”
Cllr Sarah Brown is Cambridge City Council’s executive member for community well-being.
She said: “I am very, very keen on equipping children earlier with the ability to understand that some things are not appropriate and some things require consent.
“These issues are out there and improving communication about them will be helpful for everyone.”
Joan Harness, of St Ives, suffered both physical and sexual abuse as a child while attending a boarding school in rural Ireland from the age of 6. A kitchen worker carried out the attack.
The 71-year-old said: “I was an only child, my father was always drinking and my mother was out working. I didn’t have anyone to talk to about these things.
“I think it is very important to tell children about sexual abuse from a young age because it sadly does happen. In my case, I was forced into it but I didn’t understand what was happening. I always say that young girls should be encourage to play and walk with others when out and about.”
For more information, visit http://www.nspcc.org.uk/underwearrule.
by Adam Luke