NSPCC Northern Ireland today, Tuesday, 25 August 2020 have virtually launched a campaign on social media to help professionals, parents and carers within the Northern Health and Social Care Trust area to help enable simple conversations to help keep children safe from abuse.
The NHSCT Health and Wellbeing team in partnership with the Public Health Agency NI is supporting the delivery of NSPCC’s highly successful ‘Underwear Rule’ campaign. Since 2012, the campaign, known as the PANTS campaign, has been supporting parents and carers with children aged between 4 and 8 to start having a simple conversation that can help keep children safe from sexual abuse.
The initiative will provide a range of resources and support to help people from all walks of life talk to children about staying safe from sexual abuse and who to talk to if they’re upset or worried. Also joining the campaign to add extra support in the Trust area is the Children and Young People’s Strategic Partnerships (CYPSP) who will be supporting the roll out of the campaign messages to communities.
Whilst it’s never the responsibility of a child to keep themselves safe from sexual abuse, talking PANTS helps children to understand they have a right to safety and supports them to recognise when something isn’t okay and how to tell someone.
The key messages for children are:
P – Privates are privates.
A – Always remember your body belongs to you.
N – No means no.
T – Talk about secrets that upset you.
S – Speak up, someone can help.
Our Northern Trust staff, CYPSPs and the Public Health Agency joined NSPCC to plan for a virtual campaign delivery model with Pantosaurus, the PANTS campaign’s colourful character, and have attended virtual workshops to enable them to deliver the messages to families and organisations they work with.
Over the coming months, there will be a series of virtual workshops held for professionals, parents and carers so that they can find out more about PANTS and the messages will be promoted through local partners and social media. Additionally, booklets, posters and other resources will also be made available to help families and professionals to help have conversations with children about how they stay safe from abuse.
Margaret Gallagher, NSPCC Head of Local Campaigns Service, said: “This is an incredibly exciting project. With the support of the Public Health Agency and the Northern Trust, along with CYPSP, we can reach more families and professionals, offering them our support and knowledge. Traditionally, adults have always taught children about healthy eating and road safety but conversations about helping stay safe from abuse are just as vital. The PANTS resources offer a reassuring framework for approaching what needn’t be a difficult subject.”
She added: “In 2019/20, there were 463 recorded child sex offences involving children aged 4 to 8 which is over 22% of all child sex crimes against children in Northern Ireland during that period so it is absolutely imperative that we talk to children at a young age to help keep them safe.”
Florence Hand, Health and Wellbeing Manager with the Northern Trust, said: “We’re delighted to promote the PANTS campaign across the Trust and look forward to working in partnership over the coming months to share the campaign resources and protect our children and young people. It is so important that parents, carers and professionals are empowered to deliver these messages and that they feel supported in doing so. By working together we can ensure the community feels more confident in educating children about keeping themselves safe from abuse and we would encourage everyone to engage with the campaign and make use of the resources and workshops available.”
Janice Armstrong, Health and Social Well Being Improvement Senior Officer, at the Public Health Agency, said: “Part of the development of any young child is learning rules and messages that will help keep them safe and healthy. Just as we teach children about staying safe in a variety of home and public settings, the PANTS rule will help children learn about their own personal safety and who to go to if they need help. We all have a part to play in helping keep children and young people safe.
“The PHA fully support the PANTS campaign which promotes simple conversations to help keep children and young people safe from abuse. We will continue to work in partnership with the relevant agencies to ensure the roll out of the campaign across the NHSCT area.”
Anyone with any concerns about the welfare of a child can call the NSPCC’s free and confidential helpline on 0808 800 5000 for advice. Children can call Childline on 0800 1111.