Brooke Weston students saw a hard-hitting drama, based on a true story of sexual exploitation that took place in Northamptonshire. Chelsea’s Story told of a teenager who was groomed by an older man who isolated her from her friends and family, introduced her to drugs and subsequently trafficked her around the country for seven months. She only escaped after using a phone left by one of her abusers to alert police.
The drama, by Alter Ego Theatre Company was a joint initiative with CAN, Northamptonshire Council on Addiction as part of the RISE project (Reduce Incidents of Sexual Exploitation). The play has been touring secondary schools in Northamptonshire emphasising the importance of staying safe, both online and in the outside world.
Afterwards the actors, Richard Nutter, Katie Dancey, Nicky Turner and Ian Pink, took part in a question and answer session with the Year 8 students. They discussed what constitutes healthy relationships and the importance of never giving out personal details, or photographs to strangers online, only having friends on social networks that you know personally and never arranging to meet strangers. They also highlighted agencies that can help people caught up in exploitative situations, from the police and schools to organisations such as CEOP, Barnardos and the NSPCC.
Sophie Townsend from CAN said: ‘Recent events in the media have made sexual exploitation in the forefront of people’s minds but it is a problem that has been there for a long time. The people that groom children are very clever at covering their tracks, potentially using lots of aliases and a false date of birth. It is a very profitable business to them. The fact that this play is based on a true story makes it far more powerful.’
PCSO Alex Franklin said: ‘More and more youngsters are on the internet now and it can be where a lot of potential problems start. Facebook accounts can be set up with with a false image taken off the net. If we can bring these issues to the students’ attention even if it just saves one person it has done its job. There are plenty of people, such as teachers, the police and safeguarding organisations out there who are ready and willing to listen if students are worried in any way about their safety, or that of their friends.'
If you would like to talk to somebody in confidence regarding sexual exploitation and grooming please contact Abbie or Sophie at CAN YP team. Tel: 08450 556246 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org