NEW figures show that sexual offences against under 18s rose by almost a fifth in 12 months.

Statistics show that Hampshire Constabulary recorded 2,634 sexual offences against under-18s in 2016/17 – up from 2,134 in 2015/16.

Across the UK there was a rise of 13% in sex offences against four to eight year olds.

Now charity leaders want to help parents and carers talk to young children about how to stay safe from sexual abuse.

The NSPCC has relaunched PANTS – a campaign aimed at helping parents talk to youngsters about sexual abuse.

Talk PANTS helps parents with children aged eight and under have the vital conversation about staying safe by teaching them important messages such as “privates are private.”

The charity says that their research found many parents were worried that talking to their young children about sexual abuse would be scary and confusing for them.

To combat the issue the NSPCC created a catchy song and activity pack with cartoon dinosaur Pantosaurus, which don’t mention the words ‘sex’ or ‘abuse’, so it is easier for parents to tackle the sensitive subject.

The charity has also produced a video which shows other young children using the PANTS activities.

Emma Motherwell, NSPCC campaigns manager for the South East, said: “We know that lots of parents have already used Talk PANTS to speak to their children about the dangers they may face from sexual abuse as they grow up, both in the online and offline world.

“However, the figures we have revealed today show that we all need to do more to help young children learn how to stay safe from sexual abuse.

“These conversations should be as normal as teaching them to cross the road.”

Parents and children can sing along with Pantosaurus, who explains each letter of PANTS.

The acronym provides a simple but valuable rule that keeps children safe – that their body belongs to them, they have a right to say ‘no’, and that they should tell an adult they trust if they’re worried or upset.

The charity also encourages parents to order a PANTS activity pack ahead of half term from their online shop.

The pack contains word searches, games, stickers and a bookmark for a suggested donation of £5.