The Underwear Rule: Keeping Children Safe from Sexual Abuse

Conference commends the Scottish Child Abuse enquiry and the National Confidential Forum for their ongoing investigations into historic child sexual abuse that took place within state care institutions across Scotland. Conference, however, is saddened to learn of alarming statistics that state 1 in 20 children in the UK have experienced sexual abuse, while 1 in 3 children sexually abused by an adult do not tell anyone.


Conference notes that many of these incidents go unreported as children feel fearful of their abuser, that they are to blame for the abuse and that they may not be believed if they did tell. Conference further notes that in some occasions, where children are abused by people they know, they may not be aware that they are being abused.


Conference agrees that a change in culture and in the way we approach prevention of child sexual abuse is required. This will not only provide children with the confidence, support and a safe space to speak out, but will also effectively assist in the prevention of further crimes of such nature being committed to the detriment of the individual child.


Conference believes that with age-appropriate education on child sexual abuse for school aged children and young people, Scotland’s next generation will be equipped with the knowledge and understanding they need to stay safe from and speak out about sexual abuse, whilst gaining awareness of consent and autonomy of their bodies.


Conference therefore calls on the Scottish Government to work with the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children and other relevant organisations, to develop guides and resources for Scottish schools to educate children and young people on sexual abuse.


Finally, Conference believes this newly developed resource should be embedded within the curriculum and taught to all Scottish pupils within PSE lessons, at an age appropriate level.

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