Schoolchildren across South Tyneside to be shown drama highlighting online dangers

Coun Joan Atkinson, left, and Local Safeguarding Children Board business manager Jackie Nolan, with the cast.
Coun Joan Atkinson, left, and Local Safeguarding Children Board business manager Jackie Nolan, with the cast.

Schoolchildren across South Tyneside are set to be shown a drama highlighting online dangers this week.

The production is based on the real experiences of a boy and girl, and uses genuine police interviews.

We have a duty to help children keep themselves safe, and this initiative is an exciting new development for our region

Paul Ennals

It focuses on the dangers of child sexual exploitation, online grooming and social media, as well as consent and relationships.

The drama has been commissioned by the Local Safeguarding Children Board, in partnership with Northumbria Police and Theatre in Education, from the Customs House.

Titled Is This Your Story, it has been written by Viktoria Mitchell and directed by Natasha Haws.

Coun Joan Atkinson, lead member for children, young people and families at South Tyneside Council, said: “For several years we commissioned a touring drama company to give a number of performances of Chelsea’s Choice, which was highly effective in raising awareness of issues such as healthy relationships, the grooming process and child sexual exploitation.

“However, based on feedback from young people themselves, we decided to use North East actors and base the drama here in the borough.

“The result is every bit as powerful and has the additional benefit of equipping our young people with the local knowledge they need to keep themselves safe.”

It is hoped that the production will help to raise youngsters’ awareness of the dangers which lurk on the internet, and help to keep them safe.

Paul Ennals, chairman of the local Safeguarding Children Board, said: “Today’s world contains some threats to our children and young people that previous generations find it hard to imagine.

“We have a duty to help children keep themselves safe, and this initiative is an exciting new development for our region.”

Children aged 14 to 16 at all of South Tyneside’s secondary schools will be shown the drama production this week.

People can also attend a free performance tomorrow at the Customs House, in Mill Dam, South Shields, which starts at 6pm.