How to Protect your Children with the Underwear Rule

Are you wondering how to protect your children from sexual abuse with the underwear rule?

The Underwear Rule is a simple way to help keep children safe from abuse. It is simple: a child should not be touched by others on parts of the body usually covered by their underwear. And they should not touch others in those areas. It also helps explain to children that their body belongs to them, that there are good and bad secrets and good and bad touches. Sometimes parents and educators struggle with how to teach children and keep them safe, here are some resources on how to use PANTS to teach the underwear rule.

underwear rule

About one in five children falls victim to some form of sexual abuse and violence. It happens to children of every gender, every age, every skin colour, every social class and every religion. The perpetrator is often someone the child knows and trusts. The perpetrator can also be a child.

A child is never too young to be taught The Underwear Rule because abuse can happen at every age. Don’t be uncomfortable teaching them because it is easier they learn from you than from a stranger who might take advantage of them.

Each line of PANTS covers a different part of the Underwear Rule and provides a simple but valuable lesson that can keep a child safe.

PRIVATES ARE PRIVATE

Your child should know their body  belongs to them, and no one else. No one has the right to make your child do anything with their body that makes them feel uncomfortable. If anyone tries, they should tell a trusted adult.

Children do not always recognise appropriate and inappropriate touching. Tell children it is not okay if someone looks at or touches their private parts or asks them to look at or touch someone else’s private parts.

ALWAYS REMEMBER YOUR BODY BELONGS TO YOU

Your child should know their body belongs to them, and no one else. No one has the right to make your child do anything with their body that makes them feel uncomfortable. If anyone tries, they should tell a trusted adult.

NO MEANS NO

Your child has the right to say ‘no’ – even to a family member or someone they love. This shows your child they’re in control of their body and their feelings are respected. There are times when you may need to overrule your child’s preferences to keep them safe – like when you’re crossing the road – but it helps if you explain why. If a child feels empowered to say no to their own family, they are more likely to say no to others.

TALK ABOUT SECRETS

Help your child feel confident that speaking up about a secret that’s worrying them won’t get them into trouble. Explain the difference between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ secrets. Some secrets, like surprise parties, can be good. But adults should never make a child keep a secret that makes them feel worried, sad or frightened. Secrets are often an abuser’s greatest weapon. Phrases like “it’s our little secret” are their way of making a child feel worried or scared to tell.Help your child to feel clear and confident about what to share and when. Secrets shouldn’t be kept in exchange for something, and should never make your child feel uneasy. Let them know there are no secrets!

SPEAK UP SOMEONE CAN HELP

If your child feels sad, anxious or frightened they can talk to an adult they trust. This person will listen, and can help stop whatever’s making them upset. Remind your child that whatever the problem, it’s not their fault and they won’t get into trouble. A trusted adult doesn’t have to be a family member. It can be a teacher, an older brother or sister or a friend’s parent. Help your child feel comfortable talking to you and other trusted adults.

For more information visit Nspcc

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