Coronation Street producer Kate Oates has revealed that Nathan’s grooming of Bethany will be a long-term storyline on the ITV soap.
“It will continue to be a slow-burner – we’re playing it out over a real time frame and not shying away from the details,” said the show boss.
Last night’s episode saw the sinister Nathan promise his friend Neil that he can have sex with Bethany once she’s “ready” – all of which suggests that they are part of a sex ring exploiting vulnerable teenagers.
Speaking to Inside Soap, Oates added: “Bethany’s mum Sarah is currently under the misapprehension that she’s clued up about everything her daughter is going through – but it’s actually beyond her wildest nightmares.”
Now, Barnardo’s has issued advice for those watching the storyline unfold. Their Be Safe Guide offers parents tips on the warning signs to look out for if they’re worried a child may be being groomed and exploited.
Signs of sexual exploitation include:
· Having older boyfriends or girlfriends.
· Receiving unexplained gifts or new possessions.
· Going missing for periods of time or regularly returning home late, and regularly missing school.
· Mood swings or changes in emotional wellbeing.
· Drug and alcohol misuse.
· Spending a lot of time in their bedroom and becoming unusually secretive, particularly around the use of handheld devices like mobiles.
· Suffering from sexually transmitted infections.
Steps parents can take:
· Stay alert to behavioural changes or physical signs of abuse such as bruising.
· Monitor late nights out and any unexplained belongings.
· Be wary of your child’s older friends or relationships where you see a power imbalance.
Barnardo’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.
“Like Bethany’s character, the young victims of this crime mistakenly think these child sex abusers care for them because they’re often showered with presents and attention. But alcohol and mobile phones can be used to control and manipulate them into doing things they don’t want to do.”
You can watch a 60-second rundown of next week’s episodes of Coronation Street below.