Charity Family Lives responds to NSPCC launch of underwear campaign to help parents

“Parents and Guardians have a duty to educate both themselves and their children about inappropriate behaviour both inside and outside the school and home environment.  Even within the home, parents and families need to be aware of the risks of new streams of social media and pressures to participate in sexting – the sending of inappropriate images.  Since 90% of abusers are ‘known to the child or the wider family.  We encourage ALL parents and carers to have conversations with their children about the potential dangers of associating with known adults – male or female – in unsupervised situations.  Parents can contact Family Lives and equip themselves with support and information on how to talk to and equip their children with the resilience to ward off and report unwanted and illegal behaviour.  A recent Family Lives survey of 800 parents and 600* children found that 67% of parents surveyed felt they were best placed to talk to their children about sexting.  Only 57% of dad’s however were prepared to discuss the issue compared to 75% of mums.  Dad’s came up short once again with only 40% prepared to talk about general sexual activity and online pornography compared to 50% of mum’s.

Family Lives' can support families to avoid physical, mental abuse and exploitation in childhood and teenage relationships. Between April 2010 and March 2012, Family Lives’ free helpline, Parentline received 75,269 long calls of which 1,741 calls concerned child sexual behaviour. This amounts to 2.3% of all long calls to Family Lives’ Helpline.

For free support, visit www.familylives.org.uk or call the free 24/7 Family Lives Helpline on 0808 800 2222.”

Jeremy Todd, Family Lives Chief Executive

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Top Tips for Parents & Carers Concerned about Sexploitation

Having a plan will make your life easier.  Rather than waiting for something bad to happen, think about when and how you are going to start and keep the conversation going about topics like sexting and associating with older individuals.

Pick a time when neither of you feel rushed or under pressure.  Avoid starting a conversation just as your child is going to bed or walking out the door. 

Get to know your child’s friends’ parents. They’ll probably share your concerns, so you could agree on rules around technology and supervision. You can also share anecdotes about the questions your children have asked, which might help you prepare for your own conversations.

Talk to your teen about sex and relationships and let them know that respecting one another is important. They should not have to feel forced into doing anything they are not comfortable with and they can come and talk to you if they feel pressured.

Encourage your child to report any incidents of sexual bullying whether they are involved or not.

Make it clear that any incidents of bullying are unacceptable no matter where they are and that it will not be tolerated.

Most importantly let them know that there is a great risk that this image could be shown to others or distributed on the Internet and there will be little that he or she can do to stop this.

Do not dismiss sexist language or behaviour as funny. Remember that you need to a role model for them and they will look to you to determine what is right and what is wrong.

Use a storyline from an article or TV programme to start up the conversation about the risks of sexploitation.