Our latest intervention is called 'Grassing or Grooming?' and is designed to help children develop skills they can use to refuse or resist grooming for criminal exploitation. 'Grassing or Grooming?' is a standalone module in our SafeSkills programme and was developed following extensive evaluation of our core SafeSkills intervention, which is designed to build young people's skills to refuse or resist grooming for sexual exploitation.
In order to measure impact we ask children to complete questionnaires before taking part and then again after. In this way we have identified measurable change in their attitudes
You should never ‘grass’ on someone Disagree +22%
Being a ‘grass’ is always wrong Disagree +8%
If someone calls you a ‘grass’ they are trying to control you Agree +18%
These represent statistically significant changes in children’s attitudes but we also try to measure changes in young people’s vocabulary as this is a tool that children need in order to talk confidently about grooming. This is also important because the new relationship education states that young people will know how to report concerns or abuse and have the vocabulary and confidence needed to do so.
A teachers in our partner schools said:
“The vocabulary exercises were really important. They provided the language that children needed to talk about the issues. I saw them become more confident using complex vocabulary”.
“Links in well with Yr5 stay safe materials about developing pupil voice and ability to speak up/have vocabulary. Will support with new relationship curriculum”.
Independent evaluators Dartington Service Design Lab identified that need to engage parents and carers in order to improve the efficiency of interventions. In response to the recommendations of Dartington we recently delivered a programme exploring a scenario where a young person has been groomed by an older gang member and has been pushed into moving drugs. When we invited parents & carers to a performance of the children’s role play activities we had an overwhelming response with every young person having at least one adult attending.
In one performance a participant’s Grandmother stepped in and took the role of the ‘Mother’ in the scenario. The group began acting out the conversation, with ‘Mum’ told to react as she thought she really would. She very quickly found herself shouting at the child and described her behaviour as ‘losing it’. The facilitator stopped the action and asked the audience to reflect. They discussed how this was realistic and that ‘Mum’ was probably panicked by the mention of drugs and that young person needed to get her to listen to the whole story not focus on the drugs.
They repeated the scenario and this time used less dramatic language so that they could get Mum to listen to the whole story. This forum theatre technique of stopping action and reflecting on the communication is a really useful tool for getting both parties to reflect on how they can communicate differently to achieve the outcome that they want. In this case the adult reflected on their feelings and thought about how they needed to not be overwhelmed by panic, so that they could listen fully. The young participants better understood the adult’s initial emotional response as panic at the situation and not anger at them and thought about how they could change how they told their story in order to not panic the Mother.
We are currently implementing a cycle of improvements to the resource and the teacher training designed to support teachers to implement forum theatre techeniques to both increase the amount of time young people are engaged in the programme and to improve the quality of the role play activities. The first phase of this programme is described in a report, here.