It’s good to talk – and very important to: Talking PANTS
Let’s talk about sexual abuse. Or if you happen to be the parent of a young child a more likely response would be ‘let’s not’. For many the idea of sitting down with your off-spring when they are still getting to grips with primary school and speaking about how they can stay safe from sexual abuse is about as appealing as a nasty trip to the dentist.
Some may make an attempt to broach the subject while others will simply kick the can down the road until their son or daughter is well into their teens. However, when you consider that one child in every 20 suffers some form of sexual abuse the argument for having this conversation as early as possible becomes increasingly persuasive.
It is also important to recognise that the old adage of ‘stranger danger’ now only applies in a small percentage of cases, with a third of all child sexual offences committed by other children and 90% of perpetrators being known to their victims.
The good news is that there is an easy way to talk to your child about how to stay safe without using scary words or even mentioning sex. At the NSPCC we simply call this Talking PANTS. From P through to S, each letter stands for an important rule for kids to remember - Privates are private, Always remember your body belongs to you, No means no, Talk about secrets that upset you and Speak up – someone can help.
Helping us to spread this message is our favourite cartoon dinosaur, Pantosauraus, who was recently introduced to the world with a catchy song and activity pack and now has his own game which is free to download from the iOS and Android app store. ‘Playtime with Pantosaurus’ features four mini challenges where children test their skills against Pantosaurus and his friends whilst learning the PANTS rule. Each of the playable characters is customisable with their own outfits and styles, with further accessories and outfits available to unlock as children progress through the levels.
Using this game will enable children to have fun while learning about how to stay safe from sexual abuse and what to do should anything happen that they feel uncertain or uncomfortable about. At the same time it is important that parents have their own conversations with their child about these important and sensitive issues. Much better to do this bit by bit rather than trying to deal with it all in one go, weaving these chats into everyday discussions instead of turning it into a big deal.
The more you talk about it the less awkward and uncomfortable you will feel. More importantly you will also have the peace of mind that you are equipping your child with vital knowledge to help keep them safe now and in the future, both online and out in the real world.