The Underwear Rule
Teach your child the Underwear Rule and help protect them from abuse
The Underwear Rule is a simple way that parents can help keep children safe from abuse - without using scary words or mentioning sex.
Watch: parents' Underwear Rule tips and advice
Talk PANTS and you've got the Underwear Rule covered
PANTS is an easy way for you to explain to your child the key elements of the Underwear Rule:
Privates are private
Be clear with your child that the parts of their body covered by underwear are private.
Explain to your child that no one should ask to see or touch their private parts or ask them to look at or touch anyone else's.
Sometimes doctors, nurses or family members might have to. Explain that this is OK, but that those people should always explain why, and ask your child if it's OK first.
Always remember your body belongs to you
Let your child know their body belongs to them, and no one else.
No one has the right to make them do anything that makes them feel uncomfortable. And if anyone tries, tell your child they have the right to say no.
Remind your child that they can always talk to you about anything which worries or upsets them.
No means no
Make sure your child understands that they have the right to say "no" to unwanted touch - even to a family member or someone they know or love.
This shows that they're in control of their body and their feelings should be respected.
If a child feels confident to say no to their own family, they are more likely to say no to others.
Talk about secrets that upset you
Explain the differences between 'good' and 'bad' secrets.
Phrases like "it's our little secret" are an abuser's way of making a child feel worried, or scared to tell someone what is happening to them.
- Good secrets can be things like surprise parties or presents for other people.
- Bad secrets make you feel sad, worried or frightened.
Your child needs to feel able to speak up about secrets that worry them and confident that saying something won't get them into trouble.
Telling a secret will never hurt or worry anybody in your family or someone you know and love.
Speak up, someone can help
Tell your child that if they ever feel sad, anxious or frightened they should talk to an adult they trust.
This doesn't have to be a family member. It can also be a teacher or a friend's parent - or even ChildLine.
Remind them that whatever the problem, it's not their fault and they will never get into trouble for speaking up.
Download your guide to the Underwear Rule
Parents' guide to learning the Underwear Rule:
Child-friendly guide to learning the Underwear Rule:
Guides for parents and children with a learning disability:
Talking tips for the Underwear Rule
You don't have to go through each of the elements of the Underwear Rule all at once. It's much better to keep the conversations small and often as the subject comes up.
Guide for parents
Our PANTS guide for parents can help you explain each of the elements of the Underwear Rule with your child.
You can use the child-friendly version of our PANTS guide when explaining the Underwear Rule to your child.
Our advice on how find the right words and right moments that can make talking to your child easier.
Parents recommend the Underwear Rule
The Underwear Rule is helping parents feel more confident and better prepared in talking to their children about keeping safe from abuse.
Your questions answered
We have answered some of the questions you may have about teaching your child the Underwear Rule.
Are you a child?
Do you need to talk? Call ChildLine on 0800 1111 or visit us online.
Worried about a child?
Don’t wait until you’re certain. Contact our trained helpline counsellors for 24/7 help, advice and support.