Please note: All tips in this section have been suggested by members of our online community.

NSPCC's 'Pants' rule video

NSPCC has released a new version of their 'Pants rule' video which is aimed at deaf children and their families to protect them from harm and abuse. A fantastic, simple idea which will keep a child safe from abuse.

Identify safe places

Help people identify their own safe places. Do not assume that the safe place you identify with will be the same as theirs. For example, it may be logical to you as a parent to tell your child to go to the staff room if they are being bullied. But a room full of teachers may be terrifying to your child.

Safe vs unsafe

Teach concept of 'safe' vs 'unsafe'. Use teachable moments, for example, 'This snuggly bed makes me feel safe.' 'That broken glass looks unsafe.' Use pictures for example, house on fire vs warm cosy fire. Always remember to include 'unsure' in these conversations as that middle point has to be captured.

 

The 5 'no's

Teach people about the different 'No's' we use in daily living by drawing them in different sizes with an emotional face to go with them. 1st 'No' has a smiley face and can be used when a puppy jumps up. 2nd 'No' is good manners. It has a friendly face and can be used when someone offers a cup of tea we don't want. 3rd 'No' is assertive, with straight line smile. I use it when my child wants a cookie before dinner. 4th 'No' is angry, when someone has done something I don't like. 5th 'No' is emergency when something dangerous is happening.

Use the right no yourself

When interacting, observe and point out if people are using the correct 'No' for the situation. Watch your own 'No's' and make sure they are appropriate. Model the correct 'No' for the situation.

Speak the unspoken rules

There are unspoken social rules we all follow, which need to be spoken when you have a child with special needs. For example, in public changing areas, we generally face the wall when getting changed and hide the front of our bodies. We cover ourselves with towels and dress quickly.

Encourage independence

Whenever possible, and from a young age, encourage independence in wiping/cleaning after going to the toilet and when bathing/drying. If they need help, put your hand over theirs while they do the wiping/drying/cleaning. Tell them you are doing this because their body belongs to them.

Explain what you're doing

Explain to people what you are doing when you have to apply medical ointment/creams to their genitals or clean them when they are soiled. This is an excellent time to talk about private and who can touch and why the touching is happening.

Me circle

Me circle can be taught using hoops and not bumping into other people. If you do bump circles you have to apologise. When people stand too close, you can say 'You are in my me circle and it feels uncomfortable.'

Circle concept

The circle concept is an excellent social sexual visual aid to teach about relationships and protective education.

Early warning signs

Teach early warning signs. Observe children when they feel unsafe. Model and give them words to describe these feelings, such as 'My knees go like jelly' when afraid of a dog. 'I feel uncomfortable when it barks.' 'It makes my heart beat fast.' Use a simple drawing to teach butterflies in your stomach or shaking hands.

Business touch

We ask disabled people to sit quietly and allow their bodies to be touched by strangers a lot ... doctors, therapists, care assistants, etc. This leaves them vulnerable to abuse. Teach about 'business touch' such as 'It is the business of the doctor to touch your foot and help and help it grow straighter.'

Ban 'good' and 'bad'

Link the feeling to 'comfortable' or 'uncomfortable' rather than good/bad. Using 'good' or 'bad' may make the child feel they are bad if they have an uncomfortable feeling. Being able to identify if you feel uncomfortable is an important protective behaviour. For example, 'You looked really uncomfortable when that dog barked. Did it give you a fright?'

The language of feelings

Children need to learn the name for emotions. Use moments to teach. Say things like, 'I saw you were angry when I said you had to put your toys away.' 'That big dog gave you a fright, didn't it?' 'You have a very happy face.' This teaches children the language of feelings.

Touch changes

Talk about how touch can start off feeling comfortable, then can become uncomfortable. For example 'When you were wrestling with your brother you felt safe until he was rough and then you felt uncomfortable.'

Comfortable and uncomfortable

Talk about 'comfortable' and 'uncomfortable' types of touch. 'When you give me a hug I feel really loved and comfortable.' 'Kicking hurts and I feel unsafe and uncomfortable when it happens.'

Touching private body parts

Any touching of private body parts can be either redirected to a private place or interrupted because this is a public place.

Touch

The core message about touch is your body belongs to you. Nobody can touch your body without your consent. You choose who you can share your body with.

Teaching private

Fold a piece of A4 paper lengthwise and staple/glue the outside edges. On one side, draw a door and cut it so it flaps and can be open and shut. Write 'Private' on the door. Open the flap and inside paste images of private body parts/clothing/places (eg toilet). Then close the door so it’s private.

Public private activities

When putting clothing away, talk about the activity – for example, underwear gets put in the drawer private clothes go in. This is where your coat hangs up. 'You wear that when we go out in public.'

Body parts

When bathing, label the body part and whether it is public or private. Use anatomically correct names for genitals.

Take it somewhere private

If someone you are caring for starts to discuss a private activity in public, interrupt or move to a more private area, so you are modelling where to have these sorts of conversations.

Public vs private

Teach the difference between public and private. This can be body parts, places, clothing, behaviours and communication. If you do this at an early age, people can learn this important difference before puberty.

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Using these tips

These tips have been contributed by members of our online community. We hope they will give you some ideas to try, but if you need further help why not post a question to the community or talk to one of our community advisors. If you have any concerns about your health or the wellbeing of someone you are caring for, please consult a doctor or qualified professional.