York St John and NSPCC launch digital resource to tackle child sexual abuse
A new national online digital learning and teaching resource tackling child sexual abuse and exploitation was launched at a special event at York St John University on 21 January, in partnership with the NSPCC and City of York Safeguarding Board.
The ‘It’s not OK’ play was created in 2015 by York St John University’s School of Performance and Media Production, commissioned by the Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) and developed by the NSPCC, to reach every Year 7 pupil in York with healthy relationship messages. Digital versions of the play are now available on the NSPCC’s website free of charge for schools, youth organisations and others to use with young people.
The play, performed by York St John students and alumni, centres around four characters as they explore what it means to have a healthy as opposed to an unhealthy relationship. The focus is on the young audience recognising the difference for themselves, with a single clear message that abuse is never OK.
Following a successful series of shows in York schools, a subsequent national tour of the ‘It’s not OK’ play and workshop has been delivered reaching over 25,000 young people across the UK and showcased at the NSPCC’s flagship conference Every Child Matters in London.
In order to reach even more children, the NSPCC commissioned the School of Performance and Media Production to develop the play into an online digital resource. The films were co-produced with the London based film company Tea Films and they accompany educational lesson plans that feature the play’s same four characters and safeguarding themes.
The launch saw invited guests including Lisa Winward, Chief Constable of North Yorkshire Police, Simon Westward, LSCB Independent Chair and professionals working with children and young people, experience a practical demonstration of how the resources can be used and explore why they are a key safeguarding tool.
The original play was written and created by Jules Dorey Richmond and Rachel Conlon, Senior Lecturers in the School of Performance, Media & Production at York St John University. Jules said: “We are incredibly proud to be involved in such a high profile and significant campaign with the NSPCC. The partnership has offered our students an invaluable learning opportunity to work on a project with lasting social impact. The positive response from the pupils, teachers and professionals we have worked alongside has been overwhelming and we hope that this resource continues to change lives for the better.”
Rachel added: “This innovative partnership utilises the University’s expertise and resources to influence social justice policy and practice at a local and national level and align with the University’s core values and strategic framework in championing community and University partnerships.”
Speaking at the launch, Helen Westerman, NSPCC’s Campaigns Manager for the North of England said: “Today’s launch means this powerful play, which has already touched the lives of thousands of young people, can reach even more. This is a vital tool in shattering the hidden nature of child sexual abuse, perpetrators can rely on manipulating their victims into believing they are in loving relationships rather than the toxic reality. With this resource we can empower children to know when something isn’t right, to have the confidence to say no and speak out.”
The It’s Not OK films and lesson plans can be accessed via the NSPCC website nspcc.org.uk/itsnotokay
Picture shows, left to right: Jules Dorey Richmond (Senior Lecturer in the School of Performance & Media Production at York St John University), Helen Westerman (NSPCC’s Campaigns Manager for the North of England), Professor Karen Stanton (Vice Chancellor of York St John University), Simon Westward (LSCB Independent Chair), Debra Radford (NSPCC’s York Service Centre Manager), Lisa Winward (Chief Constable of North Yorkshire Police), Rachel Conlon (Senior Lecturer in the School of Performance & Media Production at York St John University)