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Child exploitation takes centre stage in Chelsea's Choice

By Sara Neill

Published 21/04/2015

Strong message: Nicky Turner and Richard Nutter in Chelsea’s Choice
Strong message: Nicky Turner and Richard Nutter in Chelsea’s Choice

It is a serious threat to their childhoods but now a hard-hitting play is reaching out to young people sexually exploited by adults.

Chelsea's Choice has been performed at schools across Northern Ireland, and tonight it is taking centre stage at Belfast City Hall.

The production tells the story of a young girl who is taken advantage of by her boyfriend, and in a twist that can echo real life, Gary turns out to be every parent's worst nightmare.

Sean McGrath from Alter Ego Creative Solutions penned the drama,

He explained how Chelsea is sucked in by her seemingly plausible boyfriend.

"Gary charms Chelsea, pays her compliments and takes her to parties, pubs, and clubs.

"He then reveals he's in debt, and prostitutes Chelsea to pay it off, before using that to blackmail her."

Like many behind this crime, the perpetrator has isolated Chelsea from her friends and family and she will be passed round Gary's friends.

The vivid play is based on real experiences and a familiar pattern often followed by manipulative men who use children for sexual purposes.

Helen McKenzie from the Safeguarding Board, said: "We have seen in the past that when child sexual exploitation was staring people in the face, both the children and the professionals working with them failed to see it for what it is.

"Chelsea's Choice makes plain how a man can take possession of a child. It leaves no excuse for not understanding how the abuser works and how the child falls for it."

More than 200,000 people have watched Chelsea's Choice, and in some schools young people have approached the Barnardo's team that accompany the cast, to talk about their situation.

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