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Theatre project helps to keep young Deaf and autistic people safe online

Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Charles has agreed to fund a theatre project which will educate vulnerable children and young people on internet safety and the risks of child sexual exploitation.

Commissioner Charles has committed £5,000 towards Derby-based interpreter services Sarah Gatford Ltd for its Working Towards Internet Safety for Everyone (WISE) project, specifically targeting Deaf and autistic children.

The initiative works alongside Derbyshire Constabulary and PAD productions to develop performances, which improve young people’s access to the police service and delivers a stay safe online message.  The performances will be totally non- verbal and non-signed.  Instead, they will be visual and use physical storytelling to enable the audience to access the information directly.

The production will be aimed at Deaf and autistic students either in Specialist School provision or in mainstream education from the age of eight upwards and will be delivered in both the County and Derby City. It will cover basic internet safety, the risks of child sexual exploitation and the need for young people to protect themselves online.

Anecdotally, there is evidence that these specific groups are at increased risk, with incidences of self-harm, attempted suicide and radicalisation being reported due to a lack of awareness of risk. Although there is information available on the issues, little of it is produced in a way that is meaningful for these vulnerable young people.

Announcing the funding, Commissioner Charles said: “I’m delighted we’re able to support this very positive project which meets my key priority to safeguard children and young children.

“Protecting vulnerable children is of paramount importance to the Force and one of the best means of achieving this is by arming those at risk with the knowledge to protect themselves from harm while online. Equally important will be guiding these young people on where they can get help, should they be affected.

“As many as nine in 10 secondary school children have social networking profiles and are actively broadcasting information about themselves with friends and online acquaintances. We need to explore every opportunity to deliver prevention advice in a meaningful and effective way to ensure the stay safe message is received by all.” 

The theatre production will be supported by follow-up sessions to reinforce the message and improve understanding among the young audience.

“I am extremely proud to see this project come to fruition.  Working with the Police and Pad Productions to develop this production from a seed of an idea has been inspiring.  It has been an opportunity for all of us to learn about how each partner involved in the project works whilst reinforcing the fundamental message that all children and young people need to have access to the vital message of staying safe online,” said Sarah Gatford, Producer, WISE. 



Media Enquiries:   Sallie Blair - 01283 821012 / 07702 541401


Posted on Wednesday 21st October 2015
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