THE NSPCC is today launching an ‘Underwear Rule’ campaign to make it easier for the issue of sexual abuse to be broached with young children.
The campaign is aimed at making it easier for parents and carers to show primary school age children how to protect themselves or tell of abuse.
Research shows that many parents find it difficult explaining the threat to youngsters.
The NSPCC has created an easy-to-remember guide – ‘Talk PANTS’ which helps children understand the key points of the rule.
• Privates are private
• Always remember your body belongs to you
• No means no
• Talk about secrets that upset you
• Speak up, someone can help
It comes as a new poll shows that half of those with children aged five-to-17-year have never spoken to their children about the issue.
And of those who have, more than two in five (43%) said it was a difficult conversation.
Just over one in ten (11%) of adults believe primary school children face the biggest risk of sexual abuse from someone they don’t know.
But previous NSPCC research shows the reality is that in at least 90 per cent of cases the offender was known to the child.
The NSPCC say awareness of sexual abuse has risen dramatically since the Jimmy Savile scandal last year.
It says while parents want to help their children stay safe from sexual abuse many don’t always have the confidence to explain how.
The six week advertising campaign, which will be aired on nearly 60 local radio stations is being supported by Netmums and will help these parents teach the ‘Underwear Rule’ to their children during simple conversations.
The campaign complements the organisation’s ChildLine Schools Service which is visiting every primary school in the UK advising children on how to stay safe.
Peter Wanless, CEO of the NSPCC, said: “The shocking case of Savile has horrified many parents and understandably it has heightened 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.
“It’s really easier than you may think and you don’t have to mention abuse or sex at all. Just ask them to remember the ‘Underwear Rule’.
“Of course telling kids about crossing the road, stranger danger and bullying are really important but this should be discussed as well.
“Most parents still think that stranger danger is a threat facing children from the adult world but most abuse is committed by someone known to the child with stranger abuse being very rare.
“This means traditional messages like ‘don’t take sweets from strangers’ are important but don’t work for much of the abuse that is occurring.”
Siobhan Freegard of Netmums, which is supporting the campaign said: “It’s every parents’ worst nightmare to find their child has been touched inappropriately – and no family wants to think it will ever happen to them.
“But as the statistics show it does happen to one in 20 kids, and nine times out of ten by someone known to the child. So by talking about it, you are taking the first steps to keeping your children safe.
“No one can deny it’s a tough conversation to have. As a mum I can talk openly to my children about stranger-danger. I can talk easily about bullying and how to always tell an adult. But talking about them being touched intimately feels much more difficult.
“As parents we need to find a way to make our kids aware of the danger without scaring them, and that’s exactly why the NSPCC is promoting the Underwear Rule. It’s clear, simple and easy for even young kids to understand.
“Think of it as a green cross code against sexual abuse. That is why I am encouraging parents to learn the underwear rule and talk PANTS with their children.”