Sexual abuse awareness campaign is stepped up


Staff reporter (Chester First)

A NATIONAL children’s charity is today embarking on the second phase of its campaign to help encourage parents in Cheshire to talk to their children about staying safe from sexual abuse.

Originally launched last summer, the NSPCC’s Underwear Rule campaign proved successful in helping to give parents of children aged 5-11 the confidence to have an easy conversation about what has been seen as a difficult area for discussion by providing free online and downloadable guidance.

More than 2.3 million people nationwide viewed the NSPCC’s online video and nine out of 10 parents who were aware of the campaign said they now know how to broach the subject.

Bernadette Oxley, NSPCC regional head of service for the North West, said: “Although an impressive 38 per cent of all parents of children aged five to 11 now recognise the Underwear Rule, there is a significant number of parents that we still need to reach.

“In the run up to the first campaign the issue of child sexual abuse had been high in the public consciousness, as it still is today with high profile sexual abuse cases continuing to dominate news headlines. Parents play the most important role in keeping their children safe, but many find sexual abuse a difficult subject to talk to their children about.

“As there was little freely available guidance to support them, we wanted to help make the conversations a lot easier and so devised the Underwear Rule campaign.”

Supportive materials for parents are available now online and the NSPCC has developed an easy-to-remember guide – Talk PANTS – that helps children understand the key points of the Rule.

Mrs Oxley continued: “Sexual abuse continues to be a terrible scar on our society and a huge concern for parents.

“Our campaign has started to make inroads in helping to give parents and carers the tools to help protect children, but there is obviously still a long way to go.

“Over half of parents of 5-11 year olds have spoken to their children about keeping safe from sexual abuse, but we would urge more to get involved and teach their children the Underwear Rule so it becomes an integral part of parents’ conversations about safety with their children, just like the Green Cross Code.”

The second phase of the campaign launches as new figures reveal a huge increase in the number of reported primary school age victims of sexual abuse.

Last year (2012-13) police forces in England and Wales recorded 5,547 child sex crimes against those under-11 – a near 20 per cent rise on the previous year’s figure of 4,772. Cheshire Police showed an increase of 27 per cent from 194 in 2011-12 to 235 in 2012/13.

See full story in the Chester Leader

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