An emotive film and learning package is to be launched in schools to highlight the dangers of online grooming.
Kayleigh’s Love Story is a film that was produced last year about a 15-year-old schoolgirl, Kayleigh Haywood, who was groomed online by a stranger in Leicester and subsequently raped and murdered in November 2015.
Since September 2016 the film has been shown to more than 35,000 children in Leicestershire and is currently being rolled out to schools in Derbyshire between February 20 – April 7.
The film will be shown to children aged 11-16 in their school assemblies. The learning package will include letters, leaflets and consent forms for parents and information for teachers.
Detective Chief Inspector Malc Bibbings from the Public Protection unit said: “We are hoping that the rollout of this hard hitting, emotive film to the majority of teenagers in Derbyshire will deliver the key messages of the dangers of online grooming.
“We also want to educate parents on the dangers of this type of crime. It is easy to pretend to be someone else on the internet; children can often end up having conversations with people who claim to be a lot younger than they actually are.
“Very often children do not realise that they have been groomed and online predators are not always strangers. In many situations they may have already met the child through family or friends.
“Police officers across the county will be attending the majority of sessions in schools. They will be available for children to ask questions and to help deliver safety advice on the subject.”
Councillor Sara Boulton from Derby City Council said: “In my role as cabinet member, I wrote to head teachers in schools only in January this year to alert them to the film and to encourage them to watch it online. The dangers of the internet for children and young people are well documented, but many continue to expose themselves to those that prey on their innocence.
“This film sends a powerful message of the dangers of communicating with strangers online. Whilst Kayleigh’s story is distressing, it reminds us all, parents and children alike, that not everyone you link with online is who they say they are.
“The learning resources for schools being launched today are incredibly important, and I am pleased to see that many of our schools in Derby are working with us to teach children and young people that the internet is not as safe as they may think it is.”
The film will also be shown in children’s homes across the county and some colleges.
Derbyshire County Council Cabinet member for Children’s Services Councillor Jim Coyle said: “This is an incredibly important film for children to see and it’s essential that parents and carers understand why it is being shown to them.
“Kayleigh’s Love Story could potentially be any other child’s story. It depicts how easy it is to be drawn in through social media by someone who uses attention and flattery to begin and then to develop an online correspondence which makes the child feel special when in fact the real intention is to isolate them and sexually exploit them.
”It also needs to be remembered that this all happened very close to Derbyshire, just across the county border, so this absolutely is something that could happen here.
“It is happening everywhere and it is happening every day to children without their parents, carers, families or friends even realising it.
“We do not want to worry any child, parent or carer unnecessarily, but we cannot stand by and do nothing when a film which such a vital central message comes along.
“It could be that a Derbyshire child watching this film recognises the behaviour shown in it and is encouraged to take action which can prevent someone else becoming a victim of CSE.”