What is PANTS?
We all want to keep our children safe You’ve probably already talked to them about things like crossing the road safely. But have you spoken to them about how to stay safe from sexual abuse? We know it’s a conversation no parent wants to have, but we believe it can feel just as natural, and be just as easy, as the road safety chat. We call it talking PANTS. From P through to S, each letter gives an important message for children as young as four to help them stay safe.
That’s why we want all parents to talk PANTS – because we know that talking regularly with children about these important messages really can help them stay safe.
So why talk PANTS?
An important conversation to have we know what you might be thinking: this isn’t for my child. Of course, no parent ever wants to think their child will be affected by sexual abuse. But that’s exactly why it’s vital you have this conversation – to help keep them safe.
We also understand that talking about this topic might feel daunting. But it doesn’t have to be. PANTS has been created specifically – with the help of parents and professionals – to make sure these conversations are as easy and appropriate as possible for children as young as four.
PANTS never mentions sex - We know you might feel that your child is too young to talk about sex. And that’s why PANTS never mentions it. It’s not about learning about the birds and the bees, but practical and reassuring messages to stay safe.
We never use scary words - The last thing we want to do is upset or scare your child. Talking PANTS is about using simple, child-friendly language to give your child the confidence and knowledge to stay safe.
When's the right time?
Finding the right moment - Every family is different and when and where you have these conversations may depend on your child’s age or how grown up they are – it’s all about whatever feels natural for you and them. Looking for good times to start the conversations? Here are a few examples other parents have told us worked for them:
- When you’re running your child’s bath, or helping them with things like getting dressed or applying cream.
- Car journeys are a great time to talk.
- Whether it’s on the way home from school, or a weekend walk to the shops, you’ll feel more at ease as you stroll and chat together.
- Going swimming is a great time to talk about the idea that what’s covered by your pants and your swimwear is private.
- If they’ve had a lesson about personal relationships at school, ask them what they remember when they get home.
- Singing along to our song with the help of our friendly dinosaur Pantosaurus can help create the right moment.
- If their favourite TV programme is handling a sensitive storyline encourage them to talk about anything that upsets them.
How do I find the right words?
How to get started - How and when you talk PANTS with your child is always your choice. After all, you know them better than anyone.
Once you’re comfortable with all the messages our series of ‘Icebreakers’ make it easy to start talking PANTS, all with the help of our friendly dinosaur Pantosaurus. Through games, songs and activities they introduce the main messages in fun and interesting ways. And you can start today…
Our icebreakers! Share our Keep and learn kids’ pull-out – and make remembering the rules fun. Your kids can Sing along with Pantosaurus – his song is a catchy introduction to the key PANTS messages. There’s also Playtime with Pantosaurus – online, on a tablet or phone, this free game lets them play basketball and dive, all while learning the PANTS rules.
Find these fun icebreakers at nspcc.org.uk/pants
What are the PANTS rules?
Now it’s time to talk PANTS So you know about our icebreakers and you’ve worked out when to start the conversation with your child.
Now you’re ready to teach your child the five PANTS rules. We’ll take you through each letter of PANTS so you know what to say about each one.
You can start off by having a simple talk with your child about keeping safe – and then go into more detail when you are both ready.
Privates are private - Be clear with your child that your underwear covers up your private parts and what ‘private’ means. Explain to them that no one should ask to see or touch their private parts, or ask them to look at or touch anyone else’s. Sometimes doctors, nurses or family members might have to. Explain that this is OK, but that those people should always explain why, and should ask them if it’s OK first.
Always remember your body belongs to you - Let your child know their body belongs to them, and no one else. No one has the right to make them do anything that makes them feel uncomfortable. If someone asks to see or tries to touch them underneath their underwear they must say ‘No’ – and tell an adult they trust. This might be a family member, teacher, support worker or a doctor.
No means no - Make sure your child understands that they have the right to say ‘No’ to unwanted touch – even to a family member or someone they know or love. They’re in control of their body and no one should ever make them do things that make them feel uncomfortable.
Talk about secrets that upset you - Explain to your child that they should always talk about stuff that makes them worried – and that sharing it won’t get them into trouble. Explain the differences between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ secrets. Bad secrets make you feel sad, worried or frightened, whereas good secrets can be things like surprise parties or presents for other people which make you feel excited. Any secret should always be shared in the end.
Speak up, someone can help - Tell your child it’s always good to talk to an adult they trust, about anything that makes them sad, anxious or frightened, so they can help. And it doesn’t have to be a family member. It can be a teacher or a friend’s parent, for example. Reassure them that whatever the problem, it’s not their fault and they will never get into trouble for speaking out. They can also call Childline on 0800 1111 and a friendly person will help.
Thank you to the NSPCC for providing all of the information above. If you would like to download any of the leaflets please click on any of the links below: