Theatre companies tour Rotherham schools in bid to highlight child sexual exploitation

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Two theatre companies are staging productions about child sexual exploitation in Rotherham schools.

The ‘Working for Marcus’ and ‘Chelsea’s Choice’ dramas are designed to help young people gain a deeper understanding of the grooming process and the potential risks.

They focus on the subtleties of grooming, online safety, exploitation through social media, gangs and violence against women and girls.

Rotherham was rocked by a child sexual exploitation scandal last year, when it emerged that at least 1,400 children were abused in the town by men of largely Pakistani heritage between 1997 and 2007.

Councillor Gordon Watson, Deputy Leader of Rotherham Council and Advisory Cabinet Member with responsibility for Children’s and Young People’s Services, said: “These productions confront very difficult and sensitive issues and are just one of the many ways we are tackling the issue of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham.

“We hope that by reaching young people in school we have not just a captive audience, but we also give young people the opportunity to access support if needed and the knowledge to spot the signs of child sexual exploitation so we can prevent further cases in the future.”

Kay Denton, from Rotherham Council’s School Improvement Service, said: “Raising young people’s awareness of child sexual exploitation via theatre in education enables young people to identify a range of strategies to maintain their own personal safety including on-line safety and is proven to have increased knowledge of and referrals to support services.

“Both of these drama productions creatively tackles the issue of child sexual exploitation, exploring the different ways that young people can be drawn into abusive relationships and illustrating some of the consequences. These tours will enhance schools’ existing relationships education provision and will also signpost to sources of help, advice and support.”