I was asked to be involved with the underwear campaign for the NSPCC who held a Google hang out. I couldn’t make the hangout, but I did commit to raising the issue on my blog.
Personally, I think parents and carers often leave it far too late to start talking to kids about the parts of their bodies that are off limits to other people.
The NSPCC stated that there has been a 16% rise in reported cases of sexual abuse of under-11s reported to the police in 2013-2014. If those are the cases reported, I would imagine that there are many more that are NOT reported. With that in mind, we all have to think how we can try to help our children to help themselves stay safe. In reality, we cannot be three feet from our children at all times, and they do need information at young ages to know what is ok and what is not ok.
The Underwear Rule Is A GOOD Thing
As hard as it is to talk to youngsters about what is private and what is not, we need to take responsibility for empowering our children with the knowledge that their bodies are private. The NSPCC also states that at least 1 in 5 of all recorded sexual offences against children are against those too young for secondary school.
Talking to Children Aged 5 – 11
The NSPCC has launched this phase of the campaign to encourage parents of children aged 5 – 11, to talk to them and help them understand how to keep themselves safe from sexual abuse. The whole point of the campaign is to have simple and easy conversations.
The Campaign Video “Spare Parts” gives you some idea of possible simple terms that children can relate to.
It’s important to remember that talking pants is just the beginning. The NSPCC campaign is a start, but it isn’t something we can say once, and then forget as children have a short memory for things that don’t interest them, and to be honest, talking pants with kids is boring for them or might make them just giggle.
Parents need to take the lead role in this, and not expect schools to do all the work. The NSPCC have supporing materials for parents and give us plenty of guidance with their guide called “Talk PANTS”
- Privates are private.
- Always remember your body belongs to you.
- No means no.
- Talk about secrets that upset you.
- Speak up, someone can help.
Getting the message through to my special needs child is really not easy, but hopefully we will get there eventually.
He trusts everyone and no-one, but is fairly open about his body and really doesn’t think there is anything to be worried about. He goes to respite and is looked after by people outside of my control, so this is a very important lesson for him to learn, even at an age where talking pants is past the point of being helpful for young adults.
The knock on effect is that this learned behaviour will follow him in other settings where he is with new adults or ones that we don’t really know, and for respite, we really don’t know the people who are looking after our family members.
Parents and carers tend to avoid or just not talk about private parts in case the words used end up being spouted at full volume while they are in a kids playground, but for the safety of our special needs children, they really do need to have the same conversations and knowledge as any other vulnerable person, but in a very simple fashion.
At the age of 11 last year in a French swimming pool, a girl eating a hotdog slipped and the hotdog flew up in the air and bounced off him and his trunks – dollops of tomato ketchup and all. With around 100 people in the immediate vicinity, he instantly whipped off his trunks in full view of everyone before picking up a towel to cover himself.
Because of that incident, we talk underwear at every shower time now. I just mention it as I put down the towels and make sure the water isn’t too scalding for him. Most of the time he isn’t interested, but I know that deep down the memory is being planted for him, even if he doesn’t answer me, and I really trust that the memory will come back when it’s really needed, to help him know what is appropriate and what is not.
By learned behaviour, he is now covering himself up to go into the shower and closing the door to get dressed so it is thankfully sinking in – even if he gives me no reaction whatsoever when I talk about it.
Find Out More
Visit the website for more information. NSPCC – The Underwear Rule