South Shields youngsters create film to help others spot signs of grooming

Katie Vacher and her team are alerting people to the different forms of abuse.
Katie Vacher and her team are alerting people to the different forms of abuse.

Youngsters from South Tyneside have made a film in a bid to help young people spot the signs of grooming.

Katie Vacher, 16, and her team from South Shields, are bidding to show that grooming does not exclusively happen online.

The group all know individuals affected by child sexual exploitation, and are alerting people to the different forms of abuse.

Some of them may not be immediately obvious, such as in a relationship, or being targeted by organised criminal networks.

The South Shields youngsters have made a film with national charity Fixers to warn others of the signs and urge more victims to speak out.

Katie said: “It’s a topic that’s very close to our hearts because we know people who’ve been through it.

It’s shocking to think this even happens, but it’s important to know that it exists in many forms

Katie Vacher

“It’s shocking to think this even happens, but it’s important to know that it exists in many forms.

“Many people think these individuals operate online, which is true, but it can happen anywhere.

“Everyone needs to be more aware.”

In the film, the different environments in which child exploitation can happen are shown through dramatised stories.

The two scenarios are based on real experiences, including a young girl being sexually exploited at a party.

The other depicts a victim being trafficked in a relationship.

The group plans to share it with students and teachers during an assembly at their school.

Katie added: “We think the film is really powerful.

“Our aim is to raise awareness of child sexual exploitation so more people know what it is.

“Hopefully our work can encourage more victims to not be afraid of speaking out.

“Someone will listen.”

This project has been supported by NHS England North (CSE).

Fixers works with young people aged between 16 and 25 across the UK by providing them with professional resources to help them campaign on issues that matter to them.

The charity has helped more than 20,000 youngsters across the UK to have a voice in their community on issues such as cyber-bullying, self-harm, suicide or transphobia.

For more information or to make a donation to fund more Fixer projects, visit www.fixers.org.uk.