From a very early age, we talk to our children about topics that make them aware of safety, such as crossing the road and dealing with strangers.
This is relatively simple. But when it comes to sexual abuse, it can feel like a daunting prospect. We may be scared of destroying their innocence or frightening them, as well as desperately hoping our child should never be a victim of such atrocities.
But we know that child abuse does happen. Last year, Police Scotland recorded more than 5,000 sexual offences against children under the age of 16.
And so, it is paramount that children are aware of it, so that if anyone should ever attempt to abuse them they would understand that what was happening was wrong, was not their fault and that they should tell someone.
At the NSPCC, we have created resources to help parents with children aged four to eight have this conversation without causing alarm or even having to mention the word sex.
With our Talk PANTS campaign, promoted through our popular dinosaur character Pantosaurus, we teach young children that: Privates are private; Always remember your body belongs to you; No means no; Talk about secrets that upset you; and Speak up, someone can help.
We let children know that if they ever feel sad, anxious or frightened they can talk to a trusted adult; a family member, a teacher, a friend’s parent or even Childline.
The campaign’s free resources, which include activity packs and Pantosaurus’ catchy animation, are available to help guide children and parents in a simple and child-friendly way.
And after listening to parents and teachers, who have already used the resources, we now plan to create a Pantosaurus book to help keep even more children safe.
This book will give adults an easy, natural way to start this important conversation, and will allow children to revisit the story and understand it at their own pace.
In March, we launched our first ever crowdfunding campaign to produce the Pantosaurus book, with a £50,000 target by July 31.
With the money raised we will create and print copies of the book for everyone who pledges over £15. We will also send copies of the book to NSPCC service centres and our ambition is to give a copy to every school we visit to deliver our Speak out. Stay safe. assemblies and workshops. Last year we visited more than 800 schools in Scotland.
Approximately 70% of the money raised through the crowdfunding campaign will be spent on development on the book and 30% on printing and delivery. If you can help, please make a pledge –any amount will go towards making a huge difference. To find out more visit crowdfunder.co.uk/nspcc-pantosaurus-book.
Children can contact Childline about any worries on 0800 1111 or at childline.org.uk and adults concerned about the wellbeing of a