Since the media coverage of historical sexual abuse in football began last November, the Safeguarding team at Everton has been contacted by the parents of some of our players in the seeking reassurance about how Everton Academy keep their son safe. We have a wide range of approaches to ensure that the Academy provides a safe environment for your son to thrive. One of the suggestions made to us was that we deliver ‘safe touch’ messages to the players. Our belief is that you know your son best and the messages would be more impactful if delivered by you. For that reason, here is some guidance and a link to materials which will help you begin those conversations.
Helping you to find the right words…..
Conversations, like crossing the road safely, bullying and dealing with strangers, are subjects that you may talk about with your children, but what about staying safe from sexual abuse? It’s a conversation no parent wants to have, but thankfully it doesn’t have to be scary. In fact, you don’t even have to mention sexual abuse. Simple conversations really can help keep your child safe.
‘Talk PANTS’ is an initiative driven by the NSPCC that provides tips and techniques to help you broach conversations about appropriate behaviour with your son. The NSPCC PANTS website contains a downloadable guide for parents which can be accessed here: https://www.nspcc.org.uk/globalassets/documents/advice-and-info/underwear-rule-guide-for-parents.pdf
Talking PANTS is a simple way to help keep children safe from abuse. It teaches children that their body belongs to them, they have the right to say no, and that they should tell an adult if they’re upset or worried about anything.
To help children remember how to keep themselves safe, the NSPCC has created some rules. Each letter of PANTS covers a different rule and communicates a simple but valuable lesson that can help keep a child safe. How and when you talk PANTS to your child is your choice. After all, you know them better than anyone. You’ll know when they’re ready and how much detail you need to go into.
Tips and techniques
• Conversations about staying safe should not be a one-off. It’s much better to have conversations little and often. This will help you to reinforce the key points, and to adapt the message as your child gets older.
• Once you’re ready to talk, you might find your child isn’t. That’s OK. The most important thing is to not force the issue. The last thing you want is for your child to feel it’s a big deal. Make sure you choose a time when your child is relaxed and there are no distractions. Consider the environment you are in (for example, sensory issues) to ensure your child will be able to take in the information.
• Weaving simple conversations about staying safe into the daily routine is a great way to stop it feeling like a lecture. If it feels less weird for your child, it will feel much easier for you too.
Why is it important to talk PANTS? Conversations about this subject can be difficult for both parents and children. Parents don’t want to scare or upset their children, and some feel it’s too soon. That’s why it is encouraged parents and children to talk PANTS – simple conversations about staying safe.
To find out more about the ‘Talk PANTS’ initiative, visit the NSPCC website: https://www.nspcc.org.uk/preventing-abuse/keeping-children-safe/underwear-rule/