Children with learning disabilities to be taught Underwear Rule

A new version of the NSPCC’s successful campaign the Underwear Rule has been launched in Northern Ireland to help parents teach children with learning disabilities about sexual abuse.

The NSPCC and Mencap have joined forces this Child Safety Week to make the popular guide accessible for both parents and children with a learning disability.

 With more people than ever before contacting the NSPCC helpline (0808 800 5000) about sexual abuse and research indicating that disabled children are three times more vulnerable* - both the NSPCC and Mencap are encouraging parents to talk ‘PANTS’ with their children to help keep them safe.

 PANTS’, is an easy way for parents to start conversations with their children about the Underwear Rule, which has now been re-written and designed in easy-read to make it more accessible.

Privates are private

Always remember your body belongs to you
No means no
Talk about secrets that upset you
Speak up, someone can help

 Nearly 40 percent of parents with children aged 5-11 now recognise the Underwear Rule campaign and encouragingly 63 percent of these parents have spoken to their children about keeping safe from abuse.**

The guide is also helping the police catch perpetrators – earlier this year Ron Wood, 60, of Chaddesden, was jailed for eight years after being found guilty of four counts of sexually assaulting a three year-old girl. The girl’s mother reported Wood to the police after she taught her daughter the Underwear Rule and the young girl told her about the abuse.

 Head of NSPCC for Northern Ireland, Neil Anderson, said:

 “It’s vital we ensure all children – especially those who may be more vulnerable to sexual abuse learn how to recognise right from wrong behaviour.

 “This is why we are launching an Underwear Rule guide for parents and children with learning disabilities. We need to make sure all children know the areas of their bodies that are private, that their body belongs to them and where they can seek help if they need to.

“The campaign is already proving successful – 400,000 more parents have now had conversations with their children about keeping safe from abuse and it is even helping to catch sex offenders. However we know there are still vulnerable children out there and with more people than ever before contacting us about sexual abuse we need to do everything we can to protect them.”

 Jan Tregelles, chief executive of Mencap, said:

 “We know that children with a learning disability are often more vulnerable than other children for lots of different reasons.

 “When it comes to sexual abuse, it is fundamental that children with a learning disability are taught about appropriate behaviour and that they have the tools to communicate their experiences to their parents.

“That is why we have worked with the NSPCC to make their existing Underwear Rule guidance more accessible for parents who have a learning disability themselves and parents who have a son or daughter with a learning disability. We hope that it will help parents to keep their children safe.”

The Underwear Rule has already been viewed online over 600,000 times and downloaded over 100,000 times. To download a guide yourself or for more information please visit:


* More Over 60,000 people have contacted the NSPCC helpline (0808 800 5000) this year about abuse and neglect – this is an increase of 21 per cent compared to last year.  Out of these 60,000 contacts over 8000 were about sexual abuse.

* Frequently quoted studies including Sullivan and Knutson (2000) have found that disabled children were 3.4 times more likely to be abused or neglected than non-disabled children.

 ** Research conducted with YouGov on behalf of the NSPCC.

 1.    Background information about the Underwear Rule campaign can be found at:

2.    If you have concerns about a child or want advice you can contact the NSPCC for free 24 hours a day, by calling 0808 800 5000, emailing [email protected], texting 88858, using SignVideo or completing an online reporting form.  You can choose to remain anonymous if you wish.

 3.    Children can contact ChildLine on 0800 1111 or on the ChildLine website

 4.    About Mencap: There are 1.4 million people with a learning disability in the UK. Mencap works to support people with a learning disability, their families and carers by fighting to change laws, improve services and access to education, employment and leisure facilities. Mencap supports thousands of people with a learning disability to live their lives the way they want.  For advice and information about learning disability and Mencap services in your area, contact Mencap Direct on 0808 808 1111 (9am-5pm, Monday-Friday) or email [email protected]


Last updated 6 years 3 months ago