At Mersey Primary Academy, safeguarding is our priority. We work hard to ensure that children are able to understand the four different forms of abuse and include these in both our assembly curriculum and our PSHE.

The PANTS rule follows guidance from the NSPCC and is promoted within the academy as the way for children to recognise and keep themselves safe from sexual harm.

We all want to keep our children safe. You’ve probably already talked to them about things like crossing the road safely, but have you spoken to them about how to stay safe from sexual abuse? We know it’s a conversation no parent wants to have, but we believe it can feel just as natural, and be just as easy, as the road safety chat.

We call it talking PANTS. From P through to S, each letter gives an important message for children as young as four to help them stay safe.

P gifPrivates are private:

Be clear with your child that your underwear covers up your private parts and what ‘private’ meansExplain to them that no one should ask to see or touch their private parts, or ask them to look at or touch anyone else’s. Sometimes doctors, nurses or family membersmight have to. Explain that this is OK, but that those people should always explain why, and should ask them if it’s OK first.

A gifAlways remember your body belongs to you

Let your child know their body belongs to them, and no one else. No one has the right to make them do anything that makes them feel uncomfortable. If someone asks to see or tries to touch them underneath their underwear they must say ‘No’ – and tell an adult they trust. This might be a family member, teacher, support worker or a doctor.

N gifNo means no.

Make sure your child understands that they have the right to say ‘No’ to unwanted touch – even to a family member or someone they know or love. They’re in control of their body and no one should ever make them do things that make them feel uncomfortable.

T gifTalk about secrets that upset you.

Explain to your child that they should always talk about stuff that makes them worried – and that sharing it won’t get them into trouble. Explain the differences between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ secrets. Bad secrets make you feel sad, worried or frightened, whereas good secrets can be things like surprise parties or presents other people which makeyou feel excited. Any secret should always be shared in the end.

S gifSpeak up, someone can help

Tell your child it’s always good to talk to an adult they trust, about anything that makes them sad, anxious or frightened, so they can help. And it doesn’t have to be a family member. It can be a teacher or a friend’s parent, for example. Reassure them that whatever the problem, it’s not their fault and they will never get into trouble for speaking out.

They can also call Childline on 0800 1111 and a friendly person will help.