Belfast Telegraph

Corrie's Chris Harper urges teenagers to stay safe amid soap's grooming storyline

The soap actor plays “master manipulator” Nathan Curtis.

Coronation Street’s Christopher Harper has offered advice to teenagers on avoiding sexual exploitation as his role in a grooming storyline continues.

The soap actor plays Nathan Curtis, who is pressuring his much younger girlfriend Bethany Platt (Lucy Fallon) into having sex with his friends.

One scene airing on Friday night will see the 16-year-old schoolgirl led to the bedroom by older man Neil as Nathan encourages her with a reassuring smile.

Teaming up with children’s charity Barnardo’s, Christopher urged youngsters to follow the organisation’s tips in staying safe.

He said: “Nathan is a master manipulator. Bethany thinks he loves her, but he is isolating her from her friends and family so he can control her and exploit her sexually.

“Groomers like Nathan can target anyone but there are things you can do to help keep you and your mates safe.”

He added: “Barnardo’s has lots of top tips, including staying with friends your own age, always making sure someone you trust knows where you are and having charge and credit on your phone.

“It’s important to ask yourself if you’re in a safe situation and to be careful around drugs and alcohol, as they could make you an easier target for someone who wants to hurt you.”

Barnardo’s chief executive Javed Khan said: “In Coronation Street, Bethany is being controlled and manipulated by a much older man who is sexually exploiting her. It’s a crime and it’s wrong.

“If you’re out with friends, or seeing someone new please read Barnardo’s top tips for keeping safe.

“Sexual abuse and exploitation is never your fault, so please tell someone if you are scared or worried about yourself or a friend, so you can get help.”

Earlier this month, Lucy said she was spurred on to do a good job with the soap’s “difficult” grooming storyline after speaking to real-life survivors.

Barnardo’s advice for youngsters and parents is available in its online Be Safe Guide.

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