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Sarah Champion says teaching children how to protect themselves from predators is the best way of preventing abuse
Children should be taught how to keep themselves safe from sexual abuse from the age of four or five, with compulsory lessons in their first year of primary school, a shadow Home Office minister has said.
Sarah Champion, a leading campaigner against sexual exploitation in her Rotherham constituency, said teaching children how to protect themselves from predators was the most important way of preventing abuse.
The Labour MP made the proposal as she launched a new website calledDare2Care, which aims to provide advice on stopping child abuse and recognising the signs.
Champion said she wanted to persuade the government that there should be compulsory primary education about the “underwear rule”, devised by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC).
This tells children to remember the mnemonic “pants” in which P stands for ”privates are private”, A for “always remember your body belongs to you”, N for “no means no”, T for “talk about secrets that upset them” and S for “speak up because someone can help”.
Champion said: “With even the best legislation we put in place you cannot protect a child 24/7, whereas from a very young age, I would advocate as soon as they go to school, if you teach young children about respect and boundaries they can understand that.
“You are not teaching them about sex. It is teaching children what’s in their pants is private to them and if anyone tells you otherwise, you need to tell someone about it. If your uncle is telling you he is doing this because he loves you and it is your little secret, how are you as a six-year-old meant to know that is not appropriate behaviour?
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“But if you had an example in school that what’s inside your pants is yours, you might tell your mum. It should happen in every school, as soon as you go into school.”
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