Preventing Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation

Preventing Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation

  • Christopher Cowan
  • 29 April 2024
  • Posted in: Healthcare, Management & Leadership, Education

Preventing Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation
Thursday, 16 May 2024, Pendulum Hotel & Manchester Conference Centre


Loudmouth Education and Training is a theatre in education company that specialises in supporting children and young people around Relationships, Sex and Health Education (RSHE) and safeguarding. The company started in 1994 and has reached over 1 million children, young people, professionals and parents. Last year we delivered over 1,000 sessions on a wide range of topics with around half of those sessions were on the prevention of Child Exploitation (CE).

We have seen huge changes over the years in education around CE. Our first theatre in education programme on CE was launched in 1998. This was a very different time. Victims of child exploitation where still talked about as child prostitutes, the law criminalised victims and there was a real lack of understanding about grooming. Getting into schools was hard work. We were told that ‘this sort of thing doesn’t happen in our school / area’ and we sensed a fear of how having a programme on CE may affect the school’s reputation or appear to the parents or public. In fact, in 2011 we nearly dropped our CE work due to a lack of demand. This changed as high profile media cases highlighted the need for prevention education.

Drama is an incredibly powerful and accessible way to explore issues. It can bring to life common threads studies and pulls together elements from many stories. Prevention education rarely works with ‘don’t do it’ messages however using drama to explore risks and consequences in a realistic way can help young people to make sense of the issues.  Drama can help develop empathy, highlight how grooming can happen in small and subtle ways and make sometimes challenging or complex messages easier to digest. Theatre in education works best when there are workshops to unpick what was covered in the drama. The interaction and discussions are where the real learning takes place. Our Actor / Facilitators are all Level 3 safeguarding trained and experienced in managing discussions on CE in all kinds of settings. We have a variety of CE education and training programmes that use drama allowing us to work in main and non-mainstream primary and secondary settings and with professionals.

There are challenges of course. We are very careful that our content is well researched and pitched at a level that is both appropriate for the age of the young people and for the venue we are working in. We take a trauma informed approach so our session are always safe. The content is real and engaging yet careful around the language used and messages given. We avoid depictions of graphic violence or assault, and the workshops take a gentle, calm and warm tone.

Loudmouth’s work is constantly in development. Our first CE programme is still running but has been in continual evolution for over 25 years. Many of the core issues remain the same but the context has changed. Changes in technology, the exploitation of boys and young men, knife crime, the roles of gangs and County Lines have all shifted the focus over the years and our programmes adapt to these changes. Soaps and TV dramas have made some aspects such as the ‘boyfriend model’ and terms like ‘cuckooing’ and ‘trapping’ more familiar and so the education has to keep evolving.

We are currently updating two of our main CE programmes and would welcome input from anyone who would like to contribute their ideas or highlight the aspects that are most important for their area and young people.

We deliver tours to schools across the UK. Our effective and safe CE prevention education are accompanied by teaching and parents resources.  Some schools buy us in directly whilst others are part of a funded tour where they may have the work part or fully funded by a local authority and/or Police. We have 30 years of experience of working in busy schools and can manage all of the booking and logistics for any tour. We would love to work with more areas and so if you think that theatre in education could work as part of your CE education and awareness work then contact us on 0121 446 4880.

Written by Chris Cowan, Director and Co-Founder of Loudmouth Education and Training

  • child protection
  • child sex abuse
  • safeguarding children
  • Article Author

About Christopher Cowan

Christopher Cowan is one of the founders and Directors at Loudmouth Education and Training. He and Eleanor Vale set up the company and have 30 years experience of creating highly respected and innovative theatre in education programmes. The company has been delivering Relationships, Sex and Health Education (RSHE) since 1994 and has reached over 1 …