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Four years since the death of Leicestershire schoolgirl Kayleigh Haywood, police are continuing to encourage parents and teachers to show the film of the last 14 days of her life.
Kayleigh’s Love Story was made following the murder of the 15-year-old, whose body was found on 18 November 2015. In the two weeks leading up to her death, Kayleigh was groomed online by a man she had never met – exchanging 2643 messages between them.
Produced as an educational tool to be shown to children aged 11 and over, the film was rolled out in schools across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland in September 2016.
In the first five months it was delivered by a team of specially trained police staff, along with partners from the multi-agency Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) team - resulting in 50 children coming forward with concerns relating to unwanted communication online.
When released publicly in January 2017 the film generated positive response worldwide for highlighting the dangers of teenagers speaking to strangers online.
Thousands of schoolchildren across the force area, and in schools up and down the country, have been shown the film and an estimated 36 million people online worldwide.
On the fourth anniversary the force is reminding everyone of the film and is calling for parents and teachers to continue speaking to young people about online grooming and the dangers of communicating with people online.
Katy Chambers, Assistant Head Teacher at De Lisle College, said: “Kayleigh’s Love Story has proven to be a vital resource in attempting to warn children of the dangers of speaking to people online. Every year around 800 of our children are shown the film, across all five year groups. Following the screenings we have had a number of children who have then felt able to come forward and talk to us about something they have experienced.”
Donna Smalley, is the Service Manager for the multi-agency CSE team and helped roll out the film to schools at the beginning of the campaign.
She said: “The film and educational resources has proved invaluable in raising the profile of CSE, creating opportunities for both children, parents and professionals to engage in difficult conversations about risky relationships in both the actual and virtual world.
“The showcasing of the film encouraged many children to come forward and speak to trusted adults about, in some cases, direct abuse and unwanted online communication including online grooming.
“Kayleigh’s legacy enables the safeguarding of children from all forms of exploitation remains in the public domain.”
Alongside the positive response from the public the film was also received national acclaim, winning eight industry awards and being selected to be stored in the British Film Industry archive.
Leicestershire Police Assistant Chief Constable David Sandall, said: “It is clear to see the impact of the film, not only in our force area but across the country and much further afield has been phenomenal.
“Tackling child exploitation remains a priority for the force and the issues the film raises are just as prevalent today as they were when the film was first released more than three years ago.
“I would encourage teachers who have not used the film in their school to consider showing it. Parents can also benefit from watching it with their teenagers, not only to help educate themselves but it might help start conversations at home about their online world.
“There are also signs that may indicate a child is being groomed, including a change in behaviour, isolation from friendship groups and a decline in performance at school. It’s important we all know the signs so we can act if we suspect a child is in danger.”