NSPCC joins forces with Western Health Trust agencies to ‘Talk PANTS’

A new social media campaign to help professionals, parents and carers have simple conversations with children to help keep them safe from sexual abuse is being launched this week in the Western Health and Social Care Trust (WHSCT) area.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 21st March 2022, 11:26 am
Pantosaurus pictured at Ebrington Square launching the virtual phase of the #PANTS campaign. From left are Leanne Brown, WHSCT, Dermot Harrigan, Derry and Strabane PCSP, Margaret Gallagher, NSPCC, and Paul Villa, PSNI.
Pantosaurus pictured at Ebrington Square launching the virtual phase of the #PANTS campaign. From left are Leanne Brown, WHSCT, Dermot Harrigan, Derry and Strabane PCSP, Margaret Gallagher, NSPCC, and Paul Villa, PSNI.

The Public Health Agency is supporting the delivery of NSPCC’s highly successful ‘Talk PANTS!’ campaign, also known as ‘The Underwear Rule’, in partnership with WHSCT’s Health Improvement Equality and Involvement Department and local partner agencies.

The campaign provides a range of resources and support to help people from all walks of life have a conversation with children about who they can to talk to if they are upset or worried.

Since 2012, the NSPCC’s ‘Talk PANTS!’ campaign has been supporting and encouraging parents to talk to children aged between four and eight years about abuse in an age-appropriate way. The PANTS tools and resources give adults clear and easy ways to start these conversations with simple child-friendly messaging.

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.

The partners have now also taken Pantosaurus, the PANTS campaign’s colourful character, to scenic sites across the Western Trust district. Photos of Pantosaurus on tour will be shared during the coming days on the social media pages of NSPCC Northern Ireland and its partner agencies to promote the PANTS campaign.

The campaign rollout will then continue with webinars held for professionals, parents and carers so that they can find out more about the PANTS campaign. Additionally, booklets, posters and other resources will be made available to help families and professionals so they can help protect children from abuse across the Western Trust area.

Margaret Gallagher, NSPCC Northern Ireland’s Head of Local Campaigns Service, said: “This is an incredibly exciting project. With the support of the Public Health Agency and the WHSCT Health Improvement Equality and Involvement Department, 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 like ‘Talk PANTS!’ are just as vital. The ‘Talk PANTS!’ resources offer a reassuring framework for approaching what needn’t be a difficult subject.”

Margaret added: “In 2020/2021, there were 1,949 child sexual offences involving children under 18 recorded by PSNI. 773 of these offences involved children aged 4-11, which is 40% of the total. So, it is absolutely imperative that we talk to children at a young age to help keep them safe.”

Denise McCallion, Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement Manager, Public Health Agency, added: “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.”

Ann Linstrom, Health Improvement Officer at WHSCT, said: “The WHSCT is supporting the NSPCC’s Pants campaign by establishing a multiagency steering group which has contributed to a body of work to ensure that the Pants messaging gets cascaded across the WHSCT and beyond. This social media campaign is part of that work as well as training for practitioners, teachers and parents and dissemination of information and resources. We are very proud to be facilitating this partnership and excellent campaign and, not forgetting, all with the help of a friendly dinosaur!”

For more information about the Underwear Rule, PANTS, visit http://www.nspcc.org.uk/pants or to watch the Pantosaurus video, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yyalcd955lg

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.