NSPCC Northern Ireland rolls out virtual PANTS campaign with local agencies in the Southern Trust to help keep children safe from sexual abuse.
There has been a reported increase in child sex abuse across the UK and Northern Ireland since the start of the COVID-19 lockdown.
The PANTS campaign to help professionals, parents and carers from the Southern Health and Social Care Trust area have simple conversations to help keep children safe from abuse has moved to a virtual delivery phase due to the current COVID-19 restrictions in place.
The Public Health Agency NI is supporting the delivery of NSPCC’s highly successful ‘Underwear Rule’ campaign, in partnership with the Southern HSC Trust and partners from a range of agencies.
A successful launch was held late in 2019 with the beginning of workshop delivery in early 2020 directly to community partners, however, this had to be put on hold due to the restrictions since March.
The campaign now has moved to virtual delivery with an invite to agencies and groups across the Southern Trust area who work with families and children and young people to host a PANTS webinar for their staff, volunteers or parents and carers directly.
The PANTS campaign aims to 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.
Since 2012, the NSPCC’s ‘Underwear Rule’ campaign, known as the PANTS campaign, has been supporting parents and carers with children aged between 4 and 8 to start having simple conversations.
Whilst it’s never the responsibility of a child to keep themselves safe, 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.
Southern HSC Trust staff, and the Public Health Agency joined NSPCC and multi-agency partners to plan for the virtual phase of the campaign delivery model and to enable them to continue to deliver the messages to families and organisations they work with.
They have also taken Pantosaurus, the PANTS campaign’s colourful character to scenic sites across the Southern Trust, with photos of Pantosaurus on tour to be shared during the coming days across social media to promote the campaign in communities.
Following on from this, over the course of the coming weeks, there will be the continued promotion of the offer of virtual workshops 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 across the Southern Trust area.
Margaret Gallagher, NSPCC Head of Local Campaigns Service, said: “We are delighted we are able to continue with this incredibly exciting project.
“With the support of the Public Health Agency, the Southern Trust and our multi-agency partners, 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.”
Margaret 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.”
Lyndsey Hasson, Promoting Wellbeing Team, Southern HSC Trust, said: “We’re delighted to continue to promote the PANTS campaign across the Trust and look forward to working in partnership to continue to share the campaign resources now with our virtual offer 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 messages that can help try to keep them safe from abuse and we would encourage everyone to engage with the campaign and make use of the resources and online webinars available.”
Danielle Sinclair 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 SHSCT area.”
For more information about the Underwear Rule, PANTS, visit:
or to watch the Pantosaurus video visit:
For information on how to arrange a PANTS webinar in the SHSCT for your organisation, for staff or for parents and carers, please email:
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.