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 forces across England, Wales and NI recorded more than 7,500 sexual offences against children aged four to eight.

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.

One mum from the south east spoke about her experience with the talk PANTS campaign, she said: “There was an incident with my daughter and another child a little while after the NSPCC visited her school.

"Thanks to Talk PANTS, my daughter told a teacher what happened there and then. As she was so young, I’m not sure whether she would have had the words to describe the situation without having been taught about PANTS.

“It is great because it makes this topic not scary to talk about and it’s helped to highlight that boundaries around everyone and anyone are important.”

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.

Parents and professionals can find out how to Talk PANTS here.

Children can contact Childline about any worries on 0800 1111 or at and adults concerned about the wellbeing of a child can contact our NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000 or at

Helen Westerman

Service head local campaigns for NSPCC