Bid to help teens at risk of exploitation


Teenagers at risk of sexual exploitation are to be targeted by a new programme promoting healthy relationships.

The Sex Education Forum (SEF) will target the programme at those children “most likely to suffer sexual exploitation” after being given funding from Comic Relief.

Call Lessons in Love, the initiative will develop sex and relationships education (SRE) involving expert practitioners and drawing on the experiences of young people. 

A “training the trainer” model will be used to create a nationwide group of practitioners that are skilled and confident to deliver the programme.

A statement said: “While any child or young person can experience sexual exploitation, those in or leaving care, homeless or caught up in the criminal justice system are at particular risk, as recent cases in Oxford and Rochdale have shown.”

The SEF says that these teenagers can often miss out entirely on sex education because their school attendance is disrupted or they have little discussion at home about the issues. Lucy Emmerson, co-ordinator of the SEF, added: “Evidence shows that a broad programme of SRE, that starts early, helps protect young people from poor sexual health and harmful relationships.

“We know that some young people are at a higher risk of sexual exploitation than others and so it is essential that these young people don’t miss out on vital education about relationships.

“Lessons in Love will help ensure that vulnerable children have a chance to think about what they hope for in relationships in the safety of a small group led by a trained educator.”

The project is currently calling for evidence of effective sex and relationship interventions for vulnerable young people and wants to hear about relevant SRE programmes and resources that have been delivered by teachers and other professionals working with young people in care, youth justice, housing, alternative education and youth support settings. 

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