Campaign to protect children from abuse

The campaign aims to protect children. Picture (Posed by model): Robert Perry
The campaign aims to protect children. Picture (Posed by model): Robert Perry
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A campaign to help parents protect their children from sexual abuse is being launched by a charity.

The new drive by the NSPCC encourages parents to explain the “underwear rule” to their children, described as an age-appropriate way of making sure primary school age youngsters know that certain parts of their body are private.

As part of the campaign, adverts will be aired on 12 radio stations across Scotland over a six week period.

It comes as new figures showed that four out of five adults in Scotland think that parents should be responsible for talking to their young children about how to keep safe from sexual abuse, but that less than half of parents, 48%, have done so.

The statistics, in a YouGov poll conducted for the charity, questioned 1,110 adults in Scotland last month, 157 of whom were parents of children aged five to 17.

Matt Forde, head of service at NSPCC Scotland, said: “In our experience most parents in Scotland know that the greatest risk of abuse to their children will come from closer to home, than a celebrity. But, parents have told us they lack confidence in approaching this important but difficult issue.

Danger

“The underwear rule is an easy age-appropriate way for parents to make sure children speak up if something happens.

“It’s easier to talk about than you may think and you don’t have to mention abuse or sex at all. From an early age parents will talk to their children about the green cross code, stranger danger and eating your greens.

“If the underwear rule can become just as well known to children, we can stop abuse early, or even before it starts. A quick conversation can make a big difference.”

The rule uses the acronym “PANTS” to help children understand the key points. They are:

• Privates are private

• Always remember your body belongs to you

• No means no

• Talk about secrets that upset you

• Speak up, someone can help

Lynn, a parent of two boys, aged nine and 10, from Dunblane, said: “I’ve spoken to my boys about stranger danger and about staying safe online, but have never really explained why it’s important. As a parent you want to be really careful about what you are saying and how you are saying it, in case your children pick it up differently, or say it differently to another child in the playground.

“The underwear rule is really straightforward and easy to understand. The materials give you all the information and prompts you need to talk to your children. I definitely feel more confident about knowing where to start the conversation.”

Trust

Tam Baillie, Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People, said: “The simple messages in the NSPCC underwear rule can be used by parents and carers to raise these difficult issues in a way which children can understand.

“These messages will hopefully help the children recognise danger signs when the rules are not being followed and if necessary, give them the confidence to speak to someone they trust.

“We need to remember that, despite recent coverage, abuse by celebrities is actually relatively rare compared to abuse by those closest to children - such as family members, family friends or someone they know.

“That is why it is so important for parents and carers to have the confidence to talk to their children in ways that help them to keep safe.”