15/03/2017 15:21 GMT

Barnardo's Issues Advice For Worried Parents Watching 'Coronation Street' Grooming Storyline

'It makes for difficult watching.'

Parents are being given advice about the warning signs of sexual exploitation, following developments in a ‘Coronation Street’ storyline.

Barnardo’s has issued the guidance as the ITV soap continues to explore the grooming of 16-year-old Bethany Platt by Nathan Curtis, which sees her consider the older character as her boyfriend, after being won over with attention and gifts.

The charity’s chief executive, Javed Khan, said: “This storyline makes for difficult watching, but it’s important as many people as possible are aware of the signs of grooming, so we can prevent this abuse happening.” 

Nathan Curtis, played by Christopher Harper, and Bethany Platt, played by Lucy Fallon, in Coronation Street.
pixelfit via Getty Images

Issuing a statement, the charity has praised scriptwriters for shining a light on this serious, but little discussed, issue.

Barnado’s would like to remind parents of what to look out for if they have concerns about their own family.

Early warning signs include, (but are not exclusive to):

* Children having older boyfriends or girlfriends,

* Receiving unexplained gifts or possessions,

* Going missing for periods of time,

* Returning late home or to school,

* Having uncharacteristic mood swings or changes in wellbeing’  

* Increasingly spending a lot of time in their bedroom

* Becoming secretive about technology, such as a mobile phones and social media accounts. 

Parents should be particularly aware if they notice their children are drinking alcohol or believe they are taking drugs.

Khan said: “Alcohol and mobile phones can be used to control and manipulate them into doing things they don’t want to do.” 

Parents can also take steps to protect their children by staying alert to behavioural changes and monitoring late nights and unexplained belongings in the house, as well as being wary of their child’s older friends or relationships where they see a power imbalance.