Can We Talk About This?

In 2012 I worked with Sheffield City Council’s CSE unit on a project sponsored by Comic Relief. We worked with a group of boys to discuss the subject of child sexual exploitation.

The idea of the project was to create a safe space for discussing the subject with input from local witnesses. The witnesses included police officers who had dealt with the issue locally, the head of the CSE unit and importantly CSE victims.  The technique we used was to get the boys to interview the witnesses and then, in a separate session, to play back the responses. This playback session formed the starting point for the discussion.

In order to provide a resource for schools the boys responses were filmed with a view to using themed clips as a discussion starter in schools. The film below was a rough cut of just some of the material  was to go into the final resource.

My experience of this project led me to believe that there are many reasons why we fail to discuss this subject openly.  The act of discussion requires us to acknowledge that this problem exists in the first place.  CSE is bad PR for any city, and the victims families and friends are often horribly intimidated and the crime is many cases is associated with particular ethnic groups.    These factors make is a dangerous thing to tackle.  I’m glad the boys, at least, were brave enough to do so.