Sexual offences against children have risen in England & Wales, including the SW, prompting a relaunch of the NSPCC’s campaign to help young children to stay safe.
There have been 6,613 recorded sexual offences against children aged four to eight in England and Wales, according to police figures.
Devon and Cornwall 2016/17
This amounts to 10% of the total number of recorded child sex offences in 2016/17. There was also a 13% increase from the previous year where police data allowed an annual comparison.
More than 600 of these sexual offences were recorded in the South West of England.
The figures, gathered by the NSPCC through a Freedom of Information request, come as the charity relaunches their Talk PANTS campaign this half term.
Talk PANTS helps parents with children aged eight and under to have the vital conversation about staying safe from sexual abuse, by teaching them important messages such as their privates are private.
Devon and Cornwall Police saw a rise of 49 sexual offences against children aged four to eight with 299 sexual offences recorded in 2015/16 and 348 recorded in 2016/17.
Peter Wanless, CEO of the NSPCC, said: “We know that lots of parents have already used Talk PANTS to speak to their children about the dangers they may face from sexual abuse as they grow up, both in the online and offline world.
“However, the figures we have revealed today show that we all need to do more to help young children learn how to stay safe from sexual abuse, these conversations should be as normal as teaching them to cross the road.”
Research conducted by the NSPCC found many parents were worried that talking to their young children about sexual abuse would be scary and confusing for them.
To combat the issue the NSPCC has created a catchy song and activity pack – with cartoon dinosaur Pantosaurus – which don’t mention the words sex or abuse so it is easier for parents to tackle the sensitive subject.
Donna-Marie Wright, a mum to seven children, is a passionate supporter of the NSPCC’s Talk PANTS campaign.
She said: “I think Talk PANTS is a brilliant concept because having been abused myself as a child, I wanted to talk to my children about staying safe from sexual abuse, especially the younger ones (aged 4 & 5) because they don’t really understand.
“It’s a fun way to engage the kids, and the PANTS activities are done in a non-invasive way – there is no talk of sex. As soon as they are old enough to understand, it is a conversation all parents should have with their children.”
Parents and children can sing along with Pantosaurus, who explains each letter of PANTS. The acronym provides a simple but valuable rule that keeps children safe: that their body belongs to them, they have a right to say no, and that they should tell an adult they trust if they’re worried or upset.
The charity also encourages parents to order a PANTS activity pack ahead of half term from their online shop. The pack contains word searches, games, stickers and a bookmark for a suggested donation of £5.