Childnet International have been actively raising awareness of internet safety since 1995. In the past 18 months, following a number of research reports it became clear to Childnet that the public awareness about internet dangers in the UK is changing. Research both formal and informal confirmed the same message; that the awareness of the dangers amongst young people are high but the risk taking behaviours remained the same. Childnet began looking for a case study, following some in-depth research that we carried in focus groups of young people in both the UK and Denmark (12-16 years) - where young people told us that real stories told by their peers would make far more impact on them than any amount of awareness messages. We also assisted BECTA in evaluating a US case study in UK schools. This revealed again that case studies proved a particularly effective way of having a more meaningful dialogue with teenagers on the issue of internet safety. Schools in this evaluation felt that a more relevant UK example would be even more effective.
Working closely with Officers from the Lancashire Constabulary - the team began work on the Jenny’s Story with the overriding the intention of developing a film that would make the issue of internet safety real for teenagers, to challenge them and to ultimately change their risk taking behaviour online, to prevent further cases of this type occurring.
The opportunity to make a film based on a true story is rare, not least because of the successful outcome of the 11 year conviction of the perpetrator in this case, but also Jenny’s own willingness to share her story to help others. The police conducted the interviews and the part (and voice) on the film is played by an actress. Both the victim, her parents and the actress and actress’ parents were very pleased with the way Childnet and the police had approached the project and were consulted closely throughout the making of the film and in editing and refining the film and support material.
In the making of this resource, Childnet has also consulted with a wide range of experts in the field of child abuse, sex offender behaviour and education and an independent evaluation of the resource and process of production was completed before the resource was released.
In leading up to the launch the resource was piloted and tested in range of secondary schools with over 19 teachers and 2000 pupils seeing the film and completing pre and post viewing questionnaires. In total 80% of the pupils who viewed the film felt that it had significantly affected them and challenged them to modifying their online behaviour. Words that were used when describing the film, were ‘Honest’ ‘Relevant’ and ‘Arresting’.