Recently I went to Cafe Rouge in Birmingham city centre to meet up with some of the staff and volunteers from NSPCC to chat to them about the charity and find out more about the PANTS campaign, which helps young children to understand and talk about the horrific subject that is sexual abuse.
The event kicked off with an appearance from Pantasaurus, the character the NSPCC have come up with to help get kids engaged with the campaign, and then one of the team members gave a little talk on what PANTS means and how it is helping parents talk to their children about what is or isn’t appropriate when it comes to your privates and other people.
Over a very nice afternoon tea (thank you for that!) I had some really interesting conversations with the volunteers that go into schools to deliver the NSPCC messages, and hearing about their experiences was lovely, and in some cases quite touching. They are unpaid, with just their expenses covered, and they were talking about how much time they give up to go into schools, but how seeing just one child every now and again go and talk to an adult about something concerning after one of their talks made it all worth it.
If you haven’t heard about it already, let me talk to you about PANTS for a minute. Kids love pants, don’t they?! Lydia finds them absolutely hilarious and loves to run around in hers wiggling her bum and cackling away with laughter. Basing the campaign around the word is a brilliant move, as it gets their attention immediately. It certainly worked for my kids.
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I’ve been in town today chatting with some of the local volunteers from the @nspcc_official about PANTS – how to talk to children about the horribly difficult subject that is sexual abuse. I’ll be blogging about it soon but if you want to know more check out the NSPCC website #TalkPANTS
I came home and picked up the kids, and handed over two activity packs I’d brought home from the event, and had a chat to them about PANTS and what it means.
P – Privates are Private.
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.
We talked through each of these points, about how your privates are the parts of you covered by underwear or swimwear, and that at the end of the day you are in charge of who gets to touch your body – and I let them know they can always refuse to accept hugs or any kinds of touch from other people if they don’t want to be touched (with the exceptions of things like doctors needing to examine you, etc).
How they can say no and that people should respect that, and they should tell me or Daddy, or a teacher or other trusted adult when someone doesn’t respect that. About the difference between a good secret like a birthday present, and a bad secret like someone getting hurt. And how they can always talk to someone about anything they are concerned about, and even if they don’t want to tell us, there are people at school, and close family friends or relatives they trust.
It was not a topic I ever want my children to be worried about, but I know from personal experience that it is one that does need to be talked about, and the PANTS pack really helped me with how to have that conversation with my two young daughters. Now I know that the girls understand a bit better what is and isn’t OK, and when they need to tell someone just in case something inappropriate does happen.
If you want to find out more, you can head over to their website and request an activity pack, and there is even a fun video to watch with your children to help get the message across:
They do packs for children with learning disabilities or autism, and for carers too. You can also find a video in BSL on their site to help explain PANTS to deaf children, which is great to see.