PARENTS are being urged to protect children from sexual abuse after new figures reveal a huge increase in the number of primary school age victims.

Child sex crimes against those aged under 11-years-old have risen by 20 per cent to 5,547 in 2012 to 2013 from 4,772 according to figures from police forces in England and Wales.

The NSPCC is re-running its PANTS campaign which encourages parents to have simple, age appropriate conversations with their children to make them aware of the dangers of sexual abuse. PANTS stands for Privates are private, Always remember your body belongs to you, No means no, Talk about secrets that upset you and Speak up someone can help.

Regional head of service for NSPCC South West Sharon Copsey said: “Sexual abuse continues to be a terrible scar on our society which won’t heal by itself.

“Our campaign has started to make inroads in giving children the protection they need but there is obviously still a long way to go.

“The police figures are disturbing, particularly as many of the victims are so young.

“This highlights the urgent need to tackle this problem from an early age.

“Parents and carers can play an important role by ensuring their children are armed with the knowledge to recognise the wrong kind of behaviour and keep themselves safe.”

Families in Dorset have been discussing the PANTS campaign and said the issue needs to be more openly talked about to make children aware of the dangers.

Mum Rachael Franks, 37, said: “I have shared the PANTS message with the children and, although it caused giggles, they are very clear on the meaning of the message.”

Jake, 11, said: “It is good to be able to talk without being embarrassed.”