Underwear Rule to help foster carers keep children safe from abuse

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The Fostering Network has worked alongside the NSPCC to create new guidance supporting foster carers to keep children in their care safe from abuse.

Following consultation with foster carers in England and Northern Ireland a bespoke update to the NSPCC’s successful Underwear Rule guidance, aimed at parents of 5 to 11 year olds, will allow foster carers to have simple conversations with their children about keeping safe from abuse. 

Since its launch in 2013, it is estimated that an additional 400,000 parents and carers have had Underwear Rule conversations with their children. It teaches children, though the ‘PANTS’ rule, that their body belongs to them, they have the right to say no, and that they should tell an adult if they’re upset or worried:
 
Privates are private
Always remember your body belongs to you 
No means no 
Talk about secrets that upset you 
Speak up, someone can help

Last 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.

Melissa Green, director of operations at The Fostering Network, said: “Foster carers face the challenging prospect of having the most difficult of conversations with children who may not have been in their care for very long. This guidance will ensure that foster carers have the tools to have these conversations, and to keep the children in their care safe from abuse.

“We are delighted to have worked with the NSPCC on helping to bring such an important conversation to children in foster care, and the foster carers who devote their lives to supporting and loving them.”

Jon Brown, Head of the NSPCC's Strategy and Development for Sexual Abuse programmes said: “It’s vital we ensure all children learn how to recognise right from wrong behaviour.

“Our successful Underwear Rule guide is already helping to catch perpetrators and it is encouraging that foster carers believe it is a great way for them to teach children in their care that their body belong to them, the guide is an important contribution to preventing sexual abuse.

“We understand the different circumstances foster parents can find themselves in and that’s why our additional guidance provides information and advice to help them feel confident in talking to children about keeping safe from abuse.”

The foster care Underwear Rule guidance is available on the NSPCC website.