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Campaign urges us to talk to children about sexual abuse

15 October 2018

​A week-long campaign to encourage Jersey parents and carers to talk to their children about sexual abuse has been launched as new figures - from UK police forces - reveal an increase in sexual offences against children between four and eight years old.

PANTS week has been launched in Jersey as part of an ongoing abuse awareness campaign, which was first launched in Jersey in April. The abuse awareness week, starting today, features animated dinosaur Pantosaurus, and will encourage parents, carers and professionals to have conversations with children, in an age-appropriate way, about how to stay safe from sexual abuse.

The campaign is run by the Jersey Safeguarding Partnership Board, in partnership with the NSPCC, and partners throughout the States of Jersey.

New figures revealed today, based on a Freedom of Information request to 45 police forces across the UK, found that there were 6,613 recorded sexual offences against children aged 4-8 in 2016/17. Where comparable figures were provided, this represents a 13 per cent increase on the previous year.

Reported sexual offences against all children under the age of 18 in Jersey, in the last two years,  have remained consistent at 70 and 74 - a 6 per cent increase.

 Detective Superintendent Stewart Gull, QPM, who's vice chair of the Safeguarding Partnership Board, said: “Dealing with child victims of sexual abuse represents some of the most serious offending my officers deal with. The vast majority of offending of this nature that we deal with involves offenders who are already known within the family unit.

“This campaign represents an on-going opportunity to make children and family units better informed at awareness and prevention.”

As part of this initiative the Talk PANTS messages will be promoted in schools and across the Island with resources that have been produced and encouraging people to access the NSPCC website where children can sing along with Pantosaurus and download the app.

Adults can order a PANTS 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.

Jacky Moon, Service Centre Manager at NSPCC Jersey, said: “Conversations with children about learning how to stay safe from sexual abuse should be as normal as teaching them to cross the road. PANTS week is a great chance to highlight how parents and professionals can speak with children about sexual abuse in an age-appropriate way and Pantosaurus helps us to do this.

"We want children to grow up safe from sexual abuse in their online and offline worlds and having these important conversations with them at an early age can help protect children from abuse.”

The NSPCC has also produced a video which shows other young children using the PANTS activities.

Glenys Johnston, chair of the Jersey Safeguarding Partnership Board, said: “Events are taking place across Jersey this week to spread the PANTS message. The pants-wearing dinosaur is on a mission to keep every child in Jersey safe and help parents talk to their children about difficult and sensitive subjects by promoting the PANTS rule:

  • privates are private
  • always remember your body belongs to you
  • no means no
  • talk about secrets that upset you
  • speak up – someone can help. 

A new Helpline was also launched in April this year by the Jersey Safeguarding Partnership Board, in partnership with the NSPCC, to offer a more Jersey-focused response. Trained staff are available 24/7 via the Helpline and online, and have access to a wealth of local information, allowing a greater level of community signposting. The Helpline is free to call from Jersey and callers can remain anonymous if they wish.

The aim is to encourage more people to contact the Helpline at the earliest opportunity to explore any concerns they may have about a child’s safety or wellbeing or to ask for advice and support.
The Helpline number is 0808 800 5000.

Any child with a concern or worry can contact Childline on 0800 1111 at any time of day or night, 365 days a year. The call is free of charge and will be answered in the UK.  They can also visit Childline 

Pantosaurus is back in town this weekend and is inviting islanders to dance with the dinosaur at 2pm on Saturday 20 October outside M&S on King Street, St Helier.

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