A chilling video documenting the grooming, rape and murder of 15-year-old Kayleigh Haywood has already encouraged 20 children to report similar crimes.
Kayleigh was raped and killed on November 14 last year after Luke Harlow, 28, groomed her on Facebook and lured her to his home in Leicestershire.
The girl was also sexually assaulted by Harlow’s neighbour Stephen Beadman, 29 before the two of them battered her and dumped her body in woodland near Ibstock, the Mirror reports.
The men were given a total of 47 years in prison in July and the horrific case has pushed Leicestershire Police to create a short film in order to raise children’s awareness of the dangers of the internet.
Kayleigh’s Love Story, which dramatises the events leading to her death, was shown to 18,000 schoolchildren in the county.
The feature begins by showing affectionate messages between Kayleigh and her groomer, before it quickly descends into tragedy.
A police spokeswoman said:
Kayleigh’s Love Story was made first and foremost to serve as a warning to children and parents about the risks of young people speaking to strangers online and to raise awareness of the signs of child sexual exploitation.
We want to stop this activity at first contact and encourage children to report it to the police or a trusted adult.
We also hoped that the film, alongside the discussion with one of our specially trained police community support officers would give children the confidence to come forward and talk to someone if they are worried about something that has happened to them.
It is evident from the 20 disclosures we’ve already received, the film is having this impact and young people who have been targeted by groomers are coming forward to tell us.
The film was released in July with the help of Kayleigh’s parents, and Leicestershire Police intends to post the film online in January next year.
Though the 20 children who came forward is a promising start, the police hope the film will encourage any child who has received any inappropriate messages to report it immediately.
If you or anyone you know is receiving messages that make you feel uncomfortable you can report it to a parent or teacher or contact Childline here or on 0800 1111.