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Film made in Leeds highlights issue of boys’ sexual grooming

A still from the film Same Risk Different Gender

A still from the film Same Risk Different Gender

Concerns have been raised that boys groomed by sexual predators are being ignored – after the release of a film made in Leeds to highlight the problem.

Concerns have been raised that boys groomed by sexual predators are being ignored – after the release of a film made in Leeds to highlight the problem.

The Blast project, which works with young male victims in Leeds and Bradford, said organisations including the police, schools and councils often failed to recognise the signs of grooming among boys and young men.

Project coordinator Phil Mitchell said boys were less likely than girls to be seen as potential victims.

“We have been in plenty of meetings with professionals who see a boy displaying exactly the same warning signs as a girl would, but who don’t take them as seriously.

“A lot of people think that boys can look after themselves.

“Things are improving, but a lot more needs to be done.”

His comments came as Blast held an event called Boys are Sexually Exploited to launch a DVD aimed at showing professionals how to spot the signs of grooming.

Same Risk Different Gender, filmed in Leeds by Bradford-based Shoot Productions, tells the story of a Connor, a teenage boy who is repeatedly raped after being groomed by an older man.

It shows how teachers, social workers and police fail to take action despite warning signs including drug and alcohol use, truanting and Connor’s growing relationship with an older man.

Producer Sarah Senior said: “When we told people we were making a film about this issue, a lot of them backed away. That showed us what an important resource it is. If it sparks one conversation, it’s done its job.”

Jane Held, chair of Leeds Safeguarding Children Board, said: “We are continuing to develop our role in co-ordinating the work that is undertaken by all agencies in Leeds to address the exploitation of children and young people.

“We have recently agreed a multi-agency strategy setting out our approach to child sexual exploitation (CSE) in Leeds which aims to prevent exploitation taking place whilst being responsive to and supportive of all children and young people, boys and girls, and their families where such abuse has occurred.

“We work closely with the other safeguarding boards and West Yorkshire Police to ensure effective policies and procedures are in place for professionals working with CSE and have supported the West Yorkshire Police Know the Signs campaign which is designed to raise awareness of the issues amongst members of the public.

“Following the launch of a programme of awareness raising at a city wide conference in February 2012 we have promoted increased understanding the issues of sexual exploitation for professionals and helped to develop their skills through training, briefing sessions and workshops. Part of this training includes raising awareness of the sexual exploitation of boys and young men and we work closely with organisations which specialise in supporting male victims of such abuse.”

 

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