A SPECIAL online webchat has been launched in South Derbyshire to help youngsters who could be victims of sexual abuse.
Derbyshire Police is hosting the twice-weekly conversation in a bid to get young girls and boys in the area to come forward if they fear they might be being exploited or groomed.
The initiative is known as ‘Chelsea’s Choice’ and comes at the same time as a specially-produced play which is heading to schools in the district based on the real-life experiences of exploited children.
Christine Cassell, chairman of the Derbyshire Safeguarding Children Board, said: “This is an important part of the work we are doing to protect children and young people.
“Our work is particularly relevant given the recent high profile cases across the country.
“All agencies are working closely together to do everything we can to make sure our young people have ongoing education to support them and prevent problems from developing.
“Chelsea’s Choice highlights how some people – usually, but not always, older people – can try to form relationships with teenagers and young adults to use them for sex.
“Officials say they can do this by making youngsters think that they are a friend, boyfriend or girlfriend, and can use bribes, threats, humiliation and even violence to get power over youngsters.”
A spokesman for Derbyshire Police said: “To help those who may think that this situation is happening to them, or for someone who is maybe worried about a friend, we’ll be hosting online chat sessions twice a week during the production’s run.
“These will take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and anyone affected by Chelsea’s Choice can talk to our specially-trained officers and support workers.
“Using the chat session, people can ask questions either in public or in private completely anonymously.”
More information on the webchat is available online at www.derbyshire.police.uk/Safety-advice/Personal-Safety/Child-Sexual-Exploitation/ChelseasChoice.aspx