Coronation Street actor Chris Harper is backing children’s charity Barnardo’s Journey to Justice.
“Grooming victims need support on their journeys to justice.” – Corrie’s Chris Harper
The criminal justice process can often make young victims of child sexual exploitation feel like they are to blame for their own abuse and can leave them distressed and traumatised, new research by Barnardo’s has found. Now Coronation Street actor Chris Harper is backing the UK’s leading children’s charity’s calls for young victims of grooming and sexual exploitation to get more support during their quest for justice.
As Corrie’s controversial grooming storyline is due to see Nathan Curtis (Harper) appear in court to answer for his crimes against teenager Bethany Platt (Lucy Fallon), Barnardo’s publishes Journey to Justice, a report which also highlights how victims of child sexual exploitation can feel like no one believes them.
Barnardo’s is the leading provider of child sexual exploitation services and supports victims all the way through the criminal justice process – right up until prosecution and beyond.
But too many children don’t get the support they need. All victims of child sexual exploitation and abuse should be offered one-to-one support from an independent practitioner throughout the whole case.
“For young victims of child sexual abuse and exploitation, achieving justice can mean having to relive their ordeal. Just like Bethany, real life victims face going over their abuse time and time again, which can be extremely distressing and lead to them becoming retraumatised. We’ve seen how difficult it has been for Bethany to summon up the courage to report Nathan to the police and now she faces cross-examination in court – it’s a terrifying prospect for her. It’s vital that victims and survivors get one-to-one support right the way through their case to help them understand the daunting process and cope with the strain that achieving justice can put on them.” – actor Chris Harper
During interviews with victims of child sexual exploitation, Barnardo’s found that aggressive cross-examination and police interviews can make young people feel like they are not believed or that they are to blame for their abuse.
Victims also say that having to tell their stories over and over again to police and in court can leave them feeling distressed and that no one believes them. They also find the criminal justice process complicated and confusing, experience a lack of control and feel excluded from decision-making about their cases. Barnardo’s Journey to Justice report highlights a lack of support for victims of child sexual abuse and exploitation and the charity is now calling for all victims to be offered an independent one-to-one practitioner to support them throughout the whole case.
The Coronation Street storyline – which has been described as uncomfortable viewing by many – has seen teenager Bethany groomed and sexually exploited by much older Nathan, who coerced her into having sex with other men and attempted to traffic her to Belgium. In episodes to be aired soon, Nathan is due to stand trial as Bethany gives evidence against him.
Barnardo’s has previously praised Coronation Street’s writers for tackling the issue of child sexual exploitation and issued advice for parents worried about their children in its Be Safe Guide.
“The criminal justice process is confusing and daunting at the best of times, let alone for a child who’s experienced sexual abuse or exploitation. At Barnardo’s we’ve been supporting victims of child sexual exploitation for more than 20 years so we know how important it is for young people to be believed. Having to tell your story over and over again means having to relive the trauma and repeated questioning can mean that children feel like they are to blame for their own abuse. This can be hugely distressing for a child who has already been through so much. Achieving justice should not mean that children are left traumatised and distressed by the process and having an independent one-to-one practitioner who will believe them and support them through the whole process is vital.” – Barnardo’s Chief Executive Javed Khan