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Campaign to keep children safe from sexual abuse launch

Launching the Western Pants Campaign at the Silverbirch Hotel are from left, Ann Linstrom, health improvement officer, Janet Howard Omagh NSPCC branch committee member, Neil Henderson, national head of services NSPCC NI, Angela Charlton, secretary of the Omagh branch of the NSPCC, Carol Simpson, Omagh NSPCC branch committee member, Katharine Wilson, Omagh NSPCC branch committee member, Denise Mc Cillion, health and social well-being improvement senior officer and Margaret Mitchell, chair of Omagh NSPCC, branch committee.

A year-long campaign to help professionals, parents and carers from the Western Trust area keep children safe from sexual abuse was launched at the Silverbirch Hotel in Omagh on Tuesday.

The campaign is aimed at providing resources and support to help people from all walks of life to teach children how to stay safe from abuse and who to talk to if they are upset or worried.

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At the launch event in Omagh, a panel of speakers discussed the impact of sexual abuse, the importance of early intervention and how to teach children about staying safe from sexual abuse.

The launch highlighted the NSPCC’s “Underwear Rule” campaign – also known as the PANTS campaign – that supports and encouraged parents to talk to children aged between four and 11 about staying safe from sexual abuse.

The PANTS initative carries the message: P – Privates are privates; A – Always remember your body belongs to you; N – No means no; T – Talk about secrets that upset you and S – Speak up, someone can help.

A series of workshops held across the Western Trust area for professionals, parents and carers, have been planned in the next year, to create further awareness about the ‘PANTS’ campaign and how to access resources.

Across the North in 2015/16, there were 1,809 recorded sex offences against children under 18 which was an increase of 19 per cent on the previous year.

Dr Louise Herron, consultant in Service Development and Screening (Sexual Health Lead for the region) PHA said, “Just as we teach children about staying safe in a variety of home and public settings, the PANTS rule will help children learn about their own personal safety and who to go to if they need help.

“We all have a part to play in keeping children and young people safe.”

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• Anyone with any concerns about the welfare of a child can call the NSPCC’s free and confidential helpline on 0808 800 5000 for advice. Children can call Childline on 0800 1111.

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