Young sexual abuse survivors have advised Emmerdale cast and crew on the female teacher/pupil abuse storyline between characters Maya and Jacob.
In the ITV soap, teacher Maya (Louisa Clein) who is in a relationship with David Metcalfe (Matthew Wolfenden), has been spending a lot of time with young Jacob (Joe-Warren Plant), David’s adopted son.
In Monday’s instalment, viewers saw Maya kiss Jacob, who is under 16.
Emmerdale producer Laura Shaw said: “It was important for us to tell this storyline authentically, so we approached Barnardo’s for advice on scripts and character behaviour.
“Our researchers, story team – along with actors Louisa, Matthew and Joe-Warren – met with Barnardo’s experts and young men who have been supported by the charity.
“We met some incredible individuals and were moved by their courage and willingness to help us tell this story sensitively. Hopefully it will make young people and their parents more aware of these issues and their impact.”
Barnardo’s chief executive Javed Khan said: “We were really pleased to be approached by Emmerdale to advise on the serious subject of adult women grooming and abusing boys. Too often this is seen as ‘taboo’ and not talked about.
“Our specialist UK-wide services support thousands of children who have been sexually exploited by both men and women, to rebuild their lives; and we work with children at risk to help them stay safe. We know from research that outdated views still exist about boys who are groomed by adult women, but in reality it causes lasting harm, and problems with trust, affection, love and sex.”
To help Emmerdale tell the story authentically, Barnardo’s arranged for the cast and crew members to meet experts and young men who have been supported by a project called Better Futures Cymru.
The organisation provides therapeutic services for children and young people from across Wales with sexualised histories, including those who have been the victims of sexual abuse or child sexual exploitation.