THERE have been 114 recorded sexual offences against children aged four to eight in Cumbria in one year alone, according to police figures.
While there were 6,613 offences recorded across England and Wales during this period.
This amounts to 10% of the total number of recorded child sex offences in 2016/17. There was also a 13% increase from the previous year where police data allowed an annual comparison.
Police data shows 13% increase in sex offences against four to eight year-olds
The figures, gathered by the NSPCC through a Freedom of Information request, come as the charity relaunches their Talk PANTS campaign this half term.
Talk PANTS helps parents with children aged eight and under to have the vital conversation about staying safe from sexual abuse by teaching them important messages, such as their privates are private.
Research conducted by the NSPCC found many parents were worried that talking to their young children about sexual abuse would be scary and confusing for them.
To combat the issue the NSPCC has created a catchy song and activity pack – with cartoon dinosaur Pantosaurus – which don’t mention the words sex or abuse so it is easier for parents to tackle the sensitive subject.
The charity has also produced a new, fun video which shows other young children using the PANTS activities.
Donna-Marie Wright, a mum to seven children, is a passionate supporter of the NSPCC’s Talk PANTS campaign.
She said: “I think Talk PANTS is a brilliant concept because having been abused myself as a child I wanted to talk to my children about staying safe from sexual abuse, especially the younger ones (aged 4 & 5) because they don’t really understand.
“It’s a fun way to engage the kids, and the PANTS activities are done in a non-invasive way – there is no talk of sex. As soon as they are old enough to understand, it is a conversation all parents should have with their children.”
Peter Wanless, CEO of the NSPCC, said: “We know that lots of parents have already used Talk PANTS to speak to their children about the dangers they may face from sexual abuse as they grow up, both in the online and offline world.
“However, the figures we have revealed today show that we all need to do more to help young children learn how to stay safe from sexual abuse, these conversations should be as normal as teaching them to cross the road.”
Parents and children can sing along with Pantosaurus, who explains each letter of PANTS. The acronym provides a simple but valuable rule that keeps children safe: that their body belongs to them, they have a right to say no, and that they should tell an adult they trust if they’re worried or upset.
The charity also encourages parents to order a PANTS activity pack ahead of half term from their online shop. The pack contains word searches, games, stickers and a bookmark for a suggested donation of £5.