Sarah urges parents to talk PANTS

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Sarah is lending her support to an NSPCC campaign which aims to help parents protect their children from sexual abuse. The Underwear Rule encourages parents of children aged 5-11 to have simple conversations about staying safe from sexual abuse.

The NSPCC is re-running the campaign in response to new figures, which reveal a big increase in the number of reported primary school age victims of sexual abuse. Last year (2012-13) police forces in England and Wales recorded 5547 child sex crimes against those under- eleven a near 20% rise on the previous year's figure of 4772.

On average, at least one in five of all recorded sexual offences against children involve those too young to attend secondary school.

The campaign, which originally launched last summer, was hugely successful in giving parents the confidence to have an easy conversation about what many originally saw as a difficult area for discussion. Over 2.3 million people viewed the online video and nine out of ten parents who were aware of the campaign said they now knew how to broach the subject. However nearly half (46%) still haven't tackled the issue with their children.

Peter Wanless, CEO of the NSPCC, said:

We are grateful for the support of Sarah Champion. The police figures are disturbing, particularly as many of the victims are so young. This highlights the urgent need to tackle this problem from an early age. And parents and carers can play an important role by ensuring their children are armed with the knowledge to recognise the wrong kind of behaviour and keep themselves safe.

The Underwear Rule is a vital part of this process and is already striking a chord with some parents but we would urge more to get involved.

Sarah said: "Sexual abuse continues to be a terrible scar on our society and a huge concern for parents. This is why I support the NSPCC's Underwear Rule campaign which has helped to give parents and carers the tools and the confidence to help protect children. I would urge more to get involved and teach their children the Underwear Rule so that keeping safe from sexual abuse becomes an integral part of parents' conversations about safety with their children, just like the Green Cross Code.

The Underwear Rule campaign will be supported by a four week advertising burst on nearly 60 local radio stations throughout the UK and online. There will be supportive materials for parents and the NSPCC has developed an easy-to-remember guide Talk PANTS that helps children understand the key points of the Rule. (www.nspcc.org.uk/underwear)

Privates are private. Always remember your body belongs to you No means no Talk about secrets that upset you Speak up, someone can help

The campaign complements the organisation's ChildLine Schools Service which is visiting every primary school in the UK advising children on how to stay safe from all forms of abuse.

*Adults concerned about a child can call the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000. *Children can contact ChildLine on 0800 1111 or at www.ChildLine.org.uk

NewsVanessa Johns