...spotting the signs of grooming
Popular soap Coronation Street has caused controversy with a current storyline that is seeing 16 year-old Bethany Platt being groomed by her 35 year-old on screen boyfriend Nathan Curtis.
The storyline, which has been developing since the turn of the year, has now seen Nathan introduce Bethany to a group of older men as his true intentions become clear.
With some viewers claiming that the storyline makes them feel uncomfortable the soap has been praised by child abuse charities and abuse law experts as the plot uses the show’s prime time slot to raise awareness on the signs of abuse.
Responding to the storyline, Peter Garsden – Head of Abuse Law at Simpson Millar LLP – explains why such awareness is crucial in combating grooming.
Grooming Leads To Sex Ring
The grooming storyline began over the festive period, when a newcomer on the cobbles, Nathan, found Bethany collapsed in the street after attempting to overdose on diet pills.
Recognising Bethany as a vulnerable teenager Nathan began grooming the popular character after she reached out to thank him for saving her.
Acting as a confidante after Bethany’s overdose attempt Nathan showed compassion and care, with the pair eventually starting to date.
Showering Bethany with compliments and gifts, Nathan quickly established control over Bethany by making her believe that he cared for her; his control is such that Bethany has twice lied to the police about Nathan to get him off of the hook for separate charges of abduction and assault.
Discussing the long lifespan of the storyline Corrie boss Kate Oates was quoted as saying:
“We’re playing it out over a real time frame, and not shying away from the details.”
“Her mum Sarah is currently under the misapprehension that she’s clued up about everything Bethany is going through – but it’s actually beyond her wildest nightmares.”
The timeline of Bethany’s abuse by Nathan is tracking closely to real incidents of abuse, as the soap worked closely with abuse survivors and children charities when writing the plot.
Recognising that he is beginning to have more control over Bethany, Nathan is beginning to step up his intentions of getting her involved in a sex ring.
In an episode aired earlier this week Nathan invited Bethany to a party he has hosting, asking her to wear a particular dress that he had seen her in previously. When she arrived Bethany seemed to sense something was not right as the part was exclusively attended by older men.
Having a private conversation with one of his friends at the party Nathan’s plan became all too clear as someone remarked:
“She’s certainly dressed the part. I’d like to get to know her better.”
Nathan responded by claiming:
“It’s not the right time yet, when she’s ready you will be the first to know… Her family aren’t a problem.”
Being Aware & Alert To Grooming
The episode, which was the first time the audience saw the extent of trouble Bethany is in, caused controversy amongst viewers, many of whom took to social media to express their shock, disgust, and discomfort at such a shocking storyline being shown before the watershed.
Explaining that the airing time of Coronation Street is crucial Peter commends the soap for showing courage in tackling a prevalent, and yet worryingly underreported, issue:
“While the sex ring storyline makes for uncomfortable viewing it is crucial that such themes are addressed pre-watershed in a show typically enjoyed by families.”
“Coronation Street is leveraging its unique audience by showing a character popular amongst teenage girls being groomed and falling prey to a sex ring while also showing parents the signs and steps of grooming.”
“Parents who are watching at home should take heed of the small nuances displayed by Nathan, things like the jewellery and new clothes Bethany is wearing thanks to Nathan and the way he came into her life when she was most vulnerable, exerting control and making her believe he cares about her.”
“It’s a difficult topic to broach, especially through a dramatisation, but the show has clearly researched and worked with relevant organisations to make the plot as true-to-life and believable as possible.”
“With the charismatic Nathan now clearly planning to ‘pimp’ Bethany out to his friends in a sex ring operation it appears that the plot is getting close to its dark culmination.”
“Any viewers that do feel uncomfortable at the scenes, or for abuse survivors who are watching and feel triggered into dark memories by the soap, support and counselling is available from the likes of the NSPCC and Barnardo’s.”
Written by Peter Garsden
For more information on personal injury and the services offered by Simpson Millar, please call:
0808 129 3304