Is Leeds child sex abuse victim ‘Charlie’ a boy or a girl?

An image from the awareness film 'Alright Charlie'. It is unclear whether the young victim is a boy or girl.

An image from the awareness film 'Alright Charlie'. It is unclear whether the young victim is a boy or girl.

An awareness video filmed in Leeds is being released with the aim of highlighting the warning signs about the sexual abuse of primary school age children.

The Blast Project, which aims to prevent the sexual exploitation of boys, has created ‘Alright Charlie’, a film aimed at girls and boys aged nine to 11.

An image from 'Alright Charlie'.

An image from 'Alright Charlie'.

The charity won government funding to create the short film last year, and from the end of the month it will be made available for free to primary schools nationwide.

It will be available with a resource pack containing guidance for those who work with young people and has already been shown to nearly 1,000 children, mostly at primary schools in Leeds and Derby as well as a few in Bradford.

The project filmed across Leeds, including the city centre, and tells the story of 10-year-old Charlie, who is groomed and sexually exploited by 19-year-old Danny, a friend of Charlie’s older brother.

The film is set through the eyes of Charlie and is filmed in such a way that the viewer never discovers if Charlie is a boy or a girl. The aim is to dispel misconceptions that only girls are targeted for child sexual exploitation (CSE).

An image from 'Alright Charlie'.

An image from 'Alright Charlie'.

Phil Mitchell of The Blast Project said: “The point of it is to make kids aware of the warning signs in an age appropriate way, so if they notice people saying the things Danny is saying they know what the warning signs are.

“There have been several conferences recently about CSE and one of the main themes is doing more early intervention work. If we can get children before they arrive at secondary school they absorb it more and can be engaged.”

The BLAST Project has worked closely with Basis, a CSE service supporting girls, and together they made sure the film was acceptable to both girls and boys.

Mr Mitchell said: “One of the things professionals have been asking is ‘what about primary schools?’. When we read quite a lot of research about things like Rotherham, a lot of young people showed signs of being groomed when they were coming to the end of primary school.

“Not a lot was being done or people didn’t have the confidence to talk about it.”

For more information visit www.mesmac.co.uk/blast.

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