Hounslow launch week-long campaign in partnership with NSPCC to keep children safe from sexual abuse

Hounslow Safeguarding Children’s Board (HSCB) and the NSPCC are joining forces again to raise awareness of the signs of sexual abuse and how everyone can help.

Published: Tuesday, 25th September 2018

Picture of a young lady reading the PANTS booklet

The week-long campaign launched (Monday 24 September) will host a series of workshops and other activities across the brorugh to help Hounslow parents and carers talk to their children about how to stay safe from sexual abuse and to teach adults the Underwear Rule so they can talk PANTS to their children.

Aimed at four to 11 year olds, PANTS allows adults to convey important messages to children in a child-friendly and age-appropriate way, such as their body belongs to them and they should tell an adult if they are upset or worried.

PANTS stands for:

  • 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.

The council’s safeguarding board will support the charity in a joint effort to call on people to take a zero tolerance approach to abuse and contact the NSPCC’s helpline on 0808 800 5000 if they have any concerns about a child.

Sexual abuse is the manipulation or coercion of young people under the age of 18 into sexual activity. Hounslow Safeguarding Children’s Board want people to become more aware of the problem so that they can spot the signs of sexual abuse and speak out against it.

To help raise awareness of PANTS, the charity’s mascot Pantosauraus will visit five Hounslow based children’s centres where posters will be displayed and staff will hand out booklets about PANTS to families.

Pantosaurus will also attend a story time session at Chiswick Library from 11am to 11.30am on Friday 28 September at the end of which visitors will be able to pick up a range of resources to take home with them.

Workshops will be held at 23 primary schools for parents of children who attend the schools and a play entitled Love Life, developed by the NSPCC and Connecting Youth Culture, will be performed to pupils in four settings which support young people with special educational needs and disabilities. There will also be a workshop which focuses on consent.

The events follow a hugely successful year-long PANTS campaign, run by the NSPCC, Hounslow Council and HSCB, which finished at the beginning of this year. The aim is to remind parents and carers living in the area that they should continue to talk PANTS to children and that there are still many resources readily available online to help them have those conversations. These include specially designed resources for children who may have learning difficulties and for families who don’t use English as their first language.

Teachers can also download lesson plans which include slide presentations, curriculum links and much more so they can teach PANTS in the classroom.

Councillor Tom Bruce, Cabinet Member for Education, Children and Youth Services, Hounslow Council, said: “We all have a part to play in keeping children and young people safe.

“Safeguarding Week is an opportunity to inform our residents of how to protect their loved ones from the devastating effects of abuse and to safeguard the most vulnerable in our communities.

“Every one of us has a role to play to ensure the safety of all children and young people, making Hounslow a safe place to live and work.

“Working in partnership with the NSPCC we want residents to know what to do if they suspect sexual abuse and to speak out if they have any concerns.” 

Information will also be provided on how parents can educate themselves, support and protect their children and what to do if they are concerned about a child or young person. The team have also produced a new leaflet on safeguarding for parents which will be given out during the week and will be available online.

Safeguarding children is everybody’s business. Any child can be sexually exploited no matter what culture, ethnicity, religion, whether a boy or girl.

Possible signs of abuse to be aware of include:

  • having mood swings and/or self-harming
  • chatting online to people they have never met
  • withdrawing from family and friends
  • having unexplained gifts, or money
  • being in a relationship or meeting up with an older person
  • more or secretive mobile phone and computer use or having multiple phones
  • sending or posting sexual pictures online.

Emma Motherwell, NSPCC Local Campaigns Manager for London and the South East, said: “We know that 1 in 20 children have been sexually abused. Abuse robs children of their childhood - but we know that it is preventable not inevitable.

“By having conversations such as PANTS with children at a young age, in a simple age-appropriate way, we can give them the knowledge to spot the signs of abuse and stop it before it starts.

“Whilst we hope to see lots of parents and carers attending the events throughout the week, it is important that people remember that we all have a responsibility to protect children from sexual abuse all year round.

“If a resident has any concerns about a child, they should call the police on 999 if it is an emergency or 101 if an immediate response is not needed. Advice and support is also available 24/7 via the NSPCC’s helpline on 0808 800 5000.”

Residents can also call the council’s children’s services team on 020 8583 6600 or email earlyhelp@hounslow.gov.uk 

For further information about Hounslow Safeguarding Children Board (HSCB) please visit www.hscb.org.uk  or you can contact the NSPCC’s helpline on 0808 800 5000.

 

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