Seventy one Dorset children aged eight and under were reported to be victims of sex offences last year according to a charity.

Worryingly, the research by the NSPCC reveals that 22 of the reports were about five year-olds.

The figures are the result of a Freedom of Information request made to police forces in the south west, which show that over 700 sexual offences against children aged between four and eight were reported to police last year.

In response, the NSPCC said it is relaunching its Talk PANTS campaign, which helps parents with young children have vital conversations about staying safe from sexual abuse.

The charity said that its 'PANTS rules', 'Pantosaurus' song and activity pack help parents find the right words to talk to their children about staying safe. They don’t mention the words 'sex' or 'abuse' so it is easier for parents to tackle the subject, the charity says.

Donna-Marie Wright, a mum to seven children, said: “Having been abused myself between the ages of seven and 18, I believe it’s essential that all parents talk to their children about staying safe from sexual abuse.

“Many parents may worry that talking to their children about this sensitive subject will be scary and confusing but the PANTS activities help you find the right words.

"There is no mention of sex or abuse and when I’ve used them with my own young children, I’ve found the resources to be incredibly useful.”

Dorset Police has dedicated teams to deal with sexual offences against children, including a paedophile online investigation team. "Officers and staff receive awareness training to gain understanding of these complex crimes, which affect some of the most vulnerable people in our communities", a spokesman for the force said.

"Dorset Police also supports education and awareness campaigns, encouraging victims and anyone with information about those types of offences to come forward and access support."

To see the NSPCC PANTS campaign visit

Other useful contact numbers and websites include:

• Dorset Police: call 101. Always dial 999 if an emergency.

• NSPCC: 0808 800 5000,

• ChildLine (for children and young people to call): 0800 11 11

• Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre.

• CEOP resources suitable for parents and children of different ages:

• For adults who are concerned about their behaviour: 0808 1000 900