Over 4500 school pupils in Hertfordshire will be watching a play this Spring which highlights the issue of children being sexually exploited.
Local HIV and sexual health charity Herts Aid is working with Alterego Creative Solutions taking the play to secondary schools and education centres across the county from the 20th April until mid-May.
The play, called ‘Chelsea’s Choice’, will be shown to 12 – 15 year olds and is based on the real-life experiences of exploited children. It aims to help children identify risky situations, promotes safe internet use and helps to raise awareness of the grooming process and the different forms that can take. It also provides children with contacts in case they, or someone they know is being exploited.
Chelsea’s Choice has already been seen by over 150,000 young people throughout the UK and was piloted in Hertfordshire by Herts Aid and Alterego Creative Solutions last year. Follow up research showed it had a dramatic affect on young people’s knowledge and understanding of the grooming process and how to keep themselves safe.
Suzanne Bannister, Director at Herts Aid said, “We had some great feedback from this project last year and we’re delighted to be able to show it to more young people in the county. It’s hard hitting, but while children are at risk of online grooming, blackmail and sexual exploitation these are issues we have to address with them.”
She continued: “We know that children can initially be flattered by attention from someone older, but can quickly find themselves in a scary situation and afraid to seek help. Chelsea’s Choice gives young people the knowledge they need to protect themselves and the confidence to report this kind of exploitation when they recognize it.”
The project has been funded by Hertfordshire County Council, Dacorum Community Safety Partnership and St Albans Community Safety Partnership. The tour of the play begins in Watford on 20th April and continues around Hertfordshire schools until mid-May.
To work alongside the activity in schools, Herts Aid has also produced a one-page document for parents, giving tips on helping to protect children online. It can be found at www.hertsaid.co.uk. For further information on tackling child sexual exploitation visit www.hertssafeguarding.org.uk
Herts Aid is commissioned by Hertfordshire County Council to provide local sexual health promotion and HIV prevention services. The services developed aim to meet local needs and support Hertfordshire’s Sexual Health Strategy 2014-2019. Herts Aid has offices in Ware and Watford.