Pantosaurus returns to Plymouth with PANTS campaign to launch in the city

A giant, yellow, pants-wearing dinosaur is returning to Plymouth to help families and professionals start conversations with children aged 3-11 in their care about staying safe from abuse.

Pantosaurus turned heads at the community launch of Together for Childhood in the pilot site area of Ernesettle at the end of last year, and it’s been confirmed he will be spending much more time in the city as part of Plymouth’s city-wide PANTS campaign.

The campaign will be officially launched to families on Saturday 28 September at the Life Centre or Central Park, with the location dependent on the weather. There will be plenty of activities for children and the NSPCC’s Pantosaurus will make a guest appearance.

A second launch, specifically for professionals in the health, education and charity sectors, will take place on Thursday 10 October at Manadon Sports Hub.

The PANTS campaign forms one element of the Together for Childhood partnership that has seen organisations across the city unite, working together to prevent child sexual abuse. The programme is providing help and support for children and their families at the earliest possible stage, and at a community level, to protect children from harm. What works well in Ernesettle will be rolled out in other areas of the city.

Local Campaigns Manager for the NSPCC, Julie Campbell, says: “There has been some incredible work going on as part of Together for Childhood in Plymouth and we're delighted to now be able to share news of a local PANTS campaign that will reach across the city.

“It’s a really fun way to help parents, carers and professionals share simple, but vital, messages with children aged 3 to 11 about staying safe from sexual abuse. If children are worried about something, it encourages them to speak to a trusted adult who will take action on their behalf.

“Traditionally adults have always taught children about healthy eating and road safety, but conversations about staying safe from abuse are just as important, and by working together, we can make sure as many children as possible are kept safe.”

The campaign features cartoon dinosaur Pantosaurus, who helps children learn the PANTS rule:

Privates are private

Always remember your body belongs to you

No means no

Talk about secrets that upset you

Speak up – someone can help

Research conducted by the NSPCC has found that many parents are worried that talking to their young children about sexual abuse would be daunting and confusing for them.

To combat the issue a catchy song and activity pack were created - which don’t mention the words ‘sex’ or ‘abuse’, making it easier to tackle the subject in a non-scary, easy way.

As part of the year-long campaign, schools and early years and childcare settings are being encouraged to use NSPCC resources to teach children about the PANTS rule, while workshops and information sessions for parents and carers, staff, foster carers and other professionals are also available.

Sarah Trubody, Children’s Service Manager for Barnardo’s Children’s Centre in Plymouth stated: “It can be difficult to speak about an issue like this with young children, so the PANTS rule is a great way to discuss it in a fun way that they can understand and that is why Barnardo’s are getting behind this fantastic NSPCC campaign.”

Councillor Jemima Laing, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People for Plymouth City Council, added: “We already work very closely with the NSPCC and other partners to tackle sexual abuse through the Together for Childhood project so we are pleased to be able to help launch the PANTS campaign in Plymouth.

“Plymouth City Council is committed to protecting children in our city and this campaign is a good way to talk about a difficult issue in a language that children are able to understand, to help keep them safe.”

Together for Childhood sees the NSPCC joining in a partnership with Plymouth City Council, Plymouth Safeguarding Children Board, Devon and Cornwall Police, Livewell South West, Barnardos, community groups including Barefoot, children and families, the voluntary sector and schools – with the aim of building a better future for young people and their families by identifying and addressing problems at a local level in a way that everybody understands.

Ernesettle already has a thriving network of community groups carrying out vital work for children and families. It was chosen as the pilot site area by partners involved in Together for Childhood based on the community’s strengths, following an invitation from local community leaders to run the programme there.

To find out more about talking PANTS with your children or the children you work with, please email togetherforchildhood@nspcc.org.uk

The NSPCC’s Childline service provides a safe, confidential place for children with no one else to turn to, whatever their worry, whenever they need help. Children can contact Childline for free 24 hours a day, 365 days a year on 0800 1111.

Adults worried about a child can contact the NSPCC Helpline for free on 0808 800 5000, which is available every day of the year. Practitioners can provide advice and support, listen to concerns about a child, and offer general information about child protection.