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Child sexual exploitation and grooming tackled in charity's education programme touring Doncaster schools

Safe@Last's education prevention programme at Balby Carr Community Academy
Safe@Last's education prevention programme at Balby Carr Community Academy
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Child sexual exploitation, grooming gangs, legal highs were among the tough subjects tackled during a special event at Balby Carr Community Academy.

Year 10 pupils were the first in the borough to watch a production aimed at educating students about the dangers of these issues.

Pupils watch the performance

Pupils watch the performance

Average Joe tells the story of a teenage boy who is kicked out of home by his alcoholic mother and soon falls victim to a grooming gang.

Initially thinking he was being befriended by two girls, he soon realises that the presents, alcohol and drugs come at a cost.

The show, which has been produced by charity Safe@Last - which supports runaway children and young people and their families - was showcased to students and represenatives from organisations and other schools across the borough during CSE awareness week.

The increase in male sexual abuse and exploitation was the driving force behind the decision to make the main character a teenage boy.

The young actors perform

The young actors perform

Katie Eastburn, senior practitioner at Safe@Last Depaul, told students in a workshop after the performance that there is a misconception that it is just girls who fall victims to CSE.

She said: "It's not just about girls. Figures show one in three reported cases are male and that is why we are addressing it.

"At Safe@Last that we see young people who are running away everyday for various different reasons.

"One of these reasons is CSE and we are working with young boys who are victims of this."

The actors perform at Balby Carr Community Academy

The actors perform at Balby Carr Community Academy

The workshop saw students go through the 'grooming line' which looked at various stages - targeting, friendship, close relationship and abusive relationship..

They looked at the performance section by section to ensure that they are aware of warning signs, especially the dangers of using social media.

Katie told students that young people are often groomed over a long period of time.

"This is a business - groomers will work hard and invest time and effort to find out all they need to make you the victim and the one that is targeted," she said.

"We want you to be aware of the sings and dangers so it doesn't happen to you."

Following the event, headteacher Tom Ashley said he was pleased with how it had gone.

"We are anxious that our students are fully aware of these issues that they face in society today," he said.

"It was great to see our year 10 students acting so maturely."

The event was delivered to schools in Sheffield and Rotherham last year.

In addition to the Doncaster area, it is also being launched in Barnsley schools.

Any schools in South Yorkshire interested in hosting the performance and workshop can contact Katie at katie.eastburn@depaulcharity.org.uk