Melton Borough Council

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Hard-hitting play to tour schools

Published Friday, 1st November 2013

Teachers are getting their first glimpse of a hard-hitting play which shines a light on the devastating impact of child sexual exploitation.

The 35-minute powerful drama will be performed at a special preview event in Loughborough this Monday (4th). Telling the harrowing story of a teenager called Chelsea, the production will be touring schools across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland early next year.

In the fictional tale, Chelsea has fallen out with her friends and family and is befriended by an older man. Three students find her diary detailing her experiences and along with their teacher, attempt to understand what happened and how it could have been prevented.

The play is part of a new wide-ranging campaign designed to help young people and parents spot the signs of child sexual exploitation and know where to report any concerns. Although exploitation is unusual, national research suggests under-reporting is an issue across the UK.

The drive was launched last month by the two local safeguarding children boards and is backed by local agencies including Leicestershire Police, Leicestershire County Council, Leicester City Council, Rutland County Council, the NHS and district and borough councils

Paul Burnett, independent chair of the Leicestershire and Rutland Local Safeguarding Children Board, said: "Exploitation is a form of abuse which can affect young men and young women and often victims don't recognise what is happening to them.

"Theatre is an effective way of reaching out to young people and we hope that this gritty play will help them to recognise the tell tale signs and know where to turn for help." David Jones, independent chair of the Leicester Safeguarding Children Board, said: "It’s very important that children and young people know about the risks of sexual exploitation, and that we talk openly about them.

“This production will take important information out to communities and get people thinking and talking about the issue, and how to protect children against it.”

Called ‘could you spot the signs?’, the campaign has so far also included: 

  • Sending out 100,000 leaflets outlining what child sexual exploitation is, the tell tale signs to look out for and where to find help or report concerns to parents and carers, young people and schools
  • flyers for taxi companies, B and Bs, pubs and other sections of the leisure industry
  • an online web chat involving the police and councils
  • a series of seminars run by Leicestershire Police

The local safeguarding children boards are independent bodies who ensure that agencies are working together effectively to protect children. 

Over the last 12 months, the two boards have also:
  • trained over 500 teachers, social workers, police officers and other practitioners to help them spot the signs and know what to do if they suspect abuse
  • created a new child sexual exploitation action plan which councils, police, health and other agencies have signed up
The leaflets are available online at: www.lrlscb.org/leaflets