Police work with schools to raise awareness of child sexual exploitation

Devon and Cornwall Police has collaborated with the Solomon Drama Group and schools across the region to provide education around child sexual exploitation.

The Solomon Group recently presented a short play and workshop to Year 9 and 10 pupils in 20 Devon and Cornwall schools.

‘Skin Deep’ tells the powerful and moving story of two teenage girls who are attracted to boys from rival gangs.  As events unfold, their relationships become increasingly affected by misunderstandings, jealousy, possessiveness and eventually hatred and intimidation. Betrayal and fear lead to a dramatic and violent finale.

Themes covered include child sexual exploitation, gang culture, abuse, online grooming and personal safety.

Following the play, the drama group ran an interactive workshop with students who were encouraged to voice their opinions about the play, ask questions and express any concerns they had about issues raised.

This format has proven to be very effective in engaging young people and providing useful information to them in a way that resonates with them, enabling them to retain the information and learn important lessons at the same time.

All schools have safeguarding officers who are available to deal with any issues or concerns raised by pupils privately if need be.

Detective Superintendent, Stephen Parker, of Devon and Cornwall Police said, “This initiative has been very effective in achieving our aim of raising awareness around child sexual exploitation to young people.  They may not realise that they are being exploited, or may not feel able to seek help if they are being pressured into activities they are uncomfortable with. It is very important to us to communicate with young people in a way that resonates with them and that will leave a lasting impression and provide useful information they can take forward in life.”

Head Teacher, David Holt, of St Luke’s Science and Sports College, Exeter added, “Skin Deep was a moving and thought provoking play which really caught our pupils’ attention. The students were thoroughly engaged with both the play and the workshop and took away some very relevant safety information. Collaborating with Devon and Cornwall Police in educating young people around child sexual exploitation in this way has been a very worthwhile experience.”

Managing Director of the Solomon Group, Forest Paget, said, “Drama is an excellent way of illustrating and communicating sensitive issues to young people. We were delighted to be invited to perform Skin Deep in Devon and Cornwall schools by Devon and Cornwall Police.  The feedback we have had from the schools has been really positive.”

Help and information around child sexual information is available at: www.dc.police.uk/CSE.

Any young person wanting confidential help or advice about themselves or others can call or text the Young Person’s Helpline for free: 116000.