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Talking PANTS

Posted on 2 Jan, 2018 - No comments yet!

Talking to children about sexual abuse may be a scary thought, but its important we have these conversations. Instead of one off conversations it’s better to have regular chats. This way you can adapt the message to your child’s level and check understanding.

Why is it important?

According to the NSPCC 90% of sexual abuse is carried out by someone the child knows and trusts. It is believed that 1:3 abused children didn’t tell anyone at the time. This can be for a number of reasons: Shame, embarrassment, fear of not being believed or worry about getting the abuser in trouble. Talking to children from a young age about the underwear rule, and the PANTS campaign can help adopt an open conversation. Having these discussion could help protect the child in the long run.

How to have the conversation ..

The NSPCC have a great guide about the art of listening, which can be downloaded here.  It highlights some good times to bring up the conversation and how to build trust. Good times to talk could be during car journeys, walks to school or during bath time. One of the important points is to not shy away from awkward questions, and to admit when you don’t know something!

What is the PANTS rule?

P: Privates are private

The parts covered by pants are private. No one should ask to see or touch them. Explain that some circumstances a Dr, nurse, or family member may need to. However they should explain why and ask the child first if its ok.

A: Always remember your body belongs to you. 

No one should make a child do something that makes them feel embarrassed or uncomfortable. If someone tries to touch or look under their pants, they should say No. Then tell a trusted adult straight away.

N: No means No.

Every child has right to say No, even to a family member or trusted adult. If they want to say no, it is their choice.

T: Talk about secrets that upset you. 

Everyone keeps secrets but good secrets may be about a birthday surprise, or a special gift you have brought. Bad secrets are things that make you feel sad, worried, or uncomfortable. Explain to the child the difference and to tell a trusted adult about bad secrets.

S: Speak up, someone can help. 

Encourage the child to speak up about things that make them scared, worried or feel uncomfortable. Have a discussion about trusted adults they can choose to speak to in different places. This could be a teacher, family member, friend, childline, maybe even a friends parents.


The NSPCC have made a variety of resources to make this conversation easier. There is a activity pack you can order from the NSPCC (suggestion donation £5) and even a cartoon style video children can watch and you can chat about.

Pantosaurus video, view here. 


We offer a number of safeguarding options to help update your knowledge. View our onsite courses, but also our online safeguarding options.

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