The Underwear Rule Talk PANTS to your children
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 sexual abuse – without using scary words or even mentioning sex.
This simple guide for parents (PDF), and this child-friendly one (PDF), will help you talk PANTS with your child. We've also got guides for children and parents with learning disabilities, and in different languages, which can be downloaded from further down this page.
What is PANTS?
PANTS is a really easy way for you to explain the Underwear Rule to your child:
- Privates are private
- Always remember your body belongs to you
- No means no
- Talk about secrets that upset you
- Speak up, someone can help
Each of these reminders are described in more detail below.
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
Scroll left to right for guides for parents and children in different languages, as well as for readers with autism or learning disabilities.