Wirral primary school pupils warned about drug gang grooming in drama workshops

Granada Reports journalist Ann O'Connor went to the drama workshop that aims to stop children being groomed into joining drugs gangs.

Children are being given lessons that could save them from being groomed by drugs gangs.

The ‘Grassing or Grooming’ resource is designed to help children identify and resist grooming linked to gangs and violent crime.

Supported by Merseyside Police, it focuses on helping young people to recognise the warning signs of abuse and report it when they have concerns.

The pupils take part in a drama workshop. It shows what could happen to their friends who are at first bombarded with expensive presents, then drawn into ferrying mystery packages around their area.

Becoming a puppet on powerful string is how the boys and girls at Rock Ferry Primary see grooming.

The programme by the educational charity Ariel Trust is aimed at primary age pupils and is part of the area's plans to reduce violence.

During these sessions, pupils are encouraged to step into the role of bystander, victim and perpetrator, helping them to learn the skills to intervene or ask for help.

The programme has been delivered in more than 100 schools across Merseyside since it was first launched in 2021.

It was independently evaluated by Liverpool John Moore’s University researchers last year who found after taking part in the training, pupils felt 55% more confident explaining what grooming means to a friend.

Merseyside Police Commissioner Emily Spurrell supports the programme.

Rock Ferry Primary School Headteacher Sara Radley said: “The Ariel Trust’s Grassing and Grooming Project has had a profound impact on pupils at Rock Ferry, significantly increasing their awareness of online grooming risks.

This collaborative effort underscores the school’s dedication to prioritising the safety and well-being of our pupils and we cannot praise the initiative highly enough.

Elise took part in the workshop and says she's learned a valuable lesson.

The programme has been delivered in more than 100 schools across Merseyside.

Director of the Merseyside Violence Reduction Partnership Supt Georgie Garvey said: “We’re passionate about empowering young people with the knowledge and the tools to protect themselves, both in the real and the online world.

“This is a pivotal age for children, as they prepare for secondary school and exposure to a more grown-up world - a world in which social media will be no doubt be a big part of their lives.

"Through this resource we want to engage young people, make sure they understand what unacceptable and inappropriate behaviour is and how to report it if they experience it.

“By investing early, we can prevent exploitation and abuse from taking place and keep our young people safe.”

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