Coronation Street

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...raising awareness of grooming

Popular Coronation Street character Bethany Platt, played by actress Lucy Fallon, is set to be involved in a grooming storyline involving on-screen boyfriend Nathan Curtis.

It is believed that the early stages of grooming have already begun, however reports claim that that the plot is going to become darker as Nathan’s true intentions become clear.

Child protection services have been involved in developing the storyline to ensure that events remain as realistic as possible.

With the storyline being shaped by experts on child exploitation and the focus on a relatable young female character, the soap has received praise from abuse law experts for raising awareness on an important topic.

Vulnerable Teenager

The story began over the festive period, after newcomer on the cobbles Nathan discovered and saved Bethany after she’d overdosed on diet pills and collapsed in a ginnel.

When Bethany recovered, she visited Nathan at his tanning salon to thank him and eventually opened up about the reasons she took the overdose of diet pills.

Acting as a confidante to the vulnerable teenager – who has had a number of troubling storylines, including being bullied at school, since her debut on the soap – Nathan gives her his number and tells her to call if she ever needs to talk.

Most recently, Nathan has been giving Bethany responsibility around his salon by asking her to deliver flyers and flattering her by asking her to make a tutorial video.

Scenes that are currently being filmed show how the storyline will progress in the future, as Bethany is turned away from a nightclub for being too drunk; Nathan appears and takes her to his car.

Talking about the plot with the Metro, Christopher Harper – the actor who plays Nathan on the soap – said:

“[Nathan is] a very dark character and intriguing to play and I liked how Corrie were showing that there are certain stereotypes of perpetrators of this kind of thing that aren’t true,”

“All sorts of people can be capable of this kind of thing and I think it’s important that he is charming and charismatic – enough for a character like Bethany who is savvy, bright, cynical and who is quite worldly wise for a 16-year-old to fall in love with him.”

“At the beginning, we have to be able to see her fall in love and she thinks he could be falling for her as well.”

“It will develop into a relationship and it does get a lot darker and we can all see his intentions are not right.”

Grooming and Sexual Exploitation

While full details of the storyline are yet to be revealed it appears that the plot will highlight many of the danger signs of grooming and sexual exploitation.

Nathan is much older than Bethany and builds up a trusting relationship, using charm and charisma to lower Bethany’s guard.

The process may take a while but as images from current filming show, Nathan eventually appears when Bethany is drunk and particularly vulnerable and rumours suggest that the plot could become intrinsically darker as time goes on.

Discussing the plot, a source close to Coronation Street is quoted by The Sun as saying:

“This storyline was not undertaken lightly, it was the subject of major discussions among the show’s writers and bosses, but in the end they agreed that, while controversial, it was very important.”

“We know Bethany’s popular with girl viewers and hope to make them aware of the risks of this situation.”

“The really sinister element is that, while viewers will be aware Bethany’s boyfriend is bad news, she’ll have no idea. Hopefully that will resonate.”

Focusing on grooming and child exploitation has garnered praise for Coronation Street from abuse law experts, as Peter Garsden – Head of Abuse Law at Simpson Millar LLP – said:

“Coronation Street are to be congratulated for tackling such a difficult but topical subject of grooming and, presumably, sexual exploitation. Abuse in many forms is so commonly discussed in the media that to illustrate the dangers through Coronation Street will help raise awareness with viewers.

“I hope that Corrie took advice from support groups with experience of the way in which grooming and abuse happen. When a male rape story was covered by Hollyoaks, they took advice from Survivors Manchester who specialise in the subject.”

“From what has been revealed so far, it appears that, Bethany Pitt falls for flattery, and is entrapped by her on-screen older and manipulative yet charming boyfriend Nathan Curtis.”

“It remains to be seen whether the plot develops to show some of the worst forms of abuse, with a process known as ‘lover boy’ possible in this scenario. The ‘lover boy’ approach involves a child or young adult being befriended by an older man who gains their trust and inculcates the victim into prostitution and drugs, behaving like a pimp.”

“Because viewers could be triggered into memories from the past if they suffered abuse themselves, it is important that support is available after the programme which should include legal advice as to whether or not the individual concerned has a legal claim that could be brought for their historic ordeal.”

Written by Peter Garsden

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