Keep your children safe this Christmas

This week saw the preliminary hearing of 78 year old Ramsey Ramsey who is charged with 21 sex offences against young girls in the late 80’s and early 90’s. The former curry house worker appeared at Chester Crown Court to hear the next stages of the case against him. His plea is expected on February, 3, 2014 and, until that date conditions of his bail mean he is to have no unsupervised contact with any person under the age of 16.

The victims, who cannot be named for legal reasons were between the ages of 12 and 15 at the time of the alleged offences.

In light of the infamous Jimmy Savile investigation there has been a huge increase in reports of historic sexual offence cases. Parents are being encouraged to be more vigilant in teaching their children what is inappropriate behaviour from adults but some are still unsure the best ways to keep their children safe.

It is estimated that one in five children will be victim of sexual abuse or violence. The NSPCC has teamed with

Teach your child the Underwear Rule. Picture by: childine.org.uk

Teach your child the Underwear Rule.
Picture by: childine.org.uk

the Council of Europe to create a new scheme called ‘The Underwear Rule.’ The principle is simple; it’s not ok for anyone to touch me underneath my underwear, my body is my own.
Alongside this the scheme enhances the importance of communication between parent and child, whatever age the child is as abuse can happen at any stage in a child’s life.

Julie Lappin, 53, is a former police woman who worked on a Child Protection Unit, she said: “What people tend to forget is that 70-90 percent of sex offences committed against children are by someone they know.” She added “Stranger Danger and the idea that offenders are men with long black coats in is not an appropriate reflection. Parents need to be telling their children that no matter how well they know the adult, it isn’t ok for them to touch them or make them feel uncomfortable.”

Operation Yewtree was set up during the aftermath of disgraced TV presenter Jimmy Savile’s death. The presenter of the popular family show ‘Jim’ll fix it’ is thought to have committed in excess of 300 sex offences against children, mainly girls, between 1959 and 1980’s.
The investigation, run by the Metropolitan Police has seen the arrests of several other well known faces such as Rolf Harris, comedian Jimmy Tarbuck and Coronation Street actor Bill Roache.

Chester based mother of two, Sarah Willis said: “It’s quite scary really, I have a four year old and a newborn and obviously I want to keep them safe. I have actually taught my little boy the underwear rule and his school have talked to them about it as well.” She added “I was shocked to hear the percentage of children who were abused by people they know.”

Over the festive build up many parents will be taking their children to visit Santa in his grotto. As a general rule, this is a harmless and enjoyable for children and it is important not to become over scared or over protective of children as this can lead to them having confidence issues, however, there are a few subtle things parents can do to ensure their children are safe this time of year. Firstly, make sure you stay in the room whilst your child talks to Santa,  most grotto’s encourage this anyway. Secondly, if your child becomes scared or upset, don’t force them to sit with or talk to Santa, it is supposed to be fun.
It is also important not to forget simple parenting tips, don’t let young children attend carol services, pantomimes or other events alone.

Christmas is a busy time for parents and can get stressful but children’s safety has to come first. The NSPCC believe the most vital tool between parent and child is communication, if a child feels they can talk to their parents they will feel safer and confident discussing issues and this can help keep them safe from sexual or other abuse.

For more information on the underwear rule and how to talk to your child about abuse, visit:
http://www.coe.int/t/dg3/children/underwearrule/default_en.asp

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