I’m delighted to have been involved recently with an inspiring group of former and serving police and probation officers from Yorkshire who have developed a programme that aims to raise awareness about offences such as “sexting” among teens and to warn them about how sex offenders operate.
Offender Rehabilitation Awareness (ORA) was launched this week and saw me and some of the team speak on national and local radio about the dangers facing our young people in an online society.
From cyber bullying to grooming, the ORA elearning programmes have already attracted massive interest from organisations working with young people and there is a great deal within them that will benefit parents, teachers and youth workers.
Recent research has shown that more than a third of 11 to 17- year-olds have been sent sexually explicit or distressing texts or emails and ORA has created specific learning materials to educate young people and those working in education about the law surrounding these activities.
The aim of the initiative is to create an information and training service that not only supports those working with offenders but also gives young people an insight into the types of predatory behaviour they could be at risk from.
Many young people have no idea how their own behaviour in certain everyday situations could be putting them at risk. The recent arrest of a 14 year old boy for posting an explicit video of him and his girlfriend on Facebook is a prime example of how little many teenagers understand about the law in this area.
A lack of understanding of what constitutes illegal behaviour puts them at risk of arrest themselves and also makes it easier for them to become victims of sex offenders.
The Safety.net elearning programmes for young people include an online grooming awareness course that offers young people an insight into how online offenders may try and influence them.
The people behind the initiative felt there was an urgent need for more information about the typical behaviour patterns of offenders and I have enjoyed working with them to provide my own input on some of the stresses and anxieties facing teenagers and how best to communicate with them.
Knowledge is power and improving awareness of the type of behaviour to watch out for can reduce the risk these individuals might pose to anyone coming into contact with them.
The programmes link theory to real life behaviour and are designed to develop an understanding of why offenders do the things they do, and how young people and those working with offenders can manage the risks they pose.
The whole team behind this project has extensive front line experience in supervising and managing the risks posed by some of the most dangerous offenders in the Criminal Justice System and our training programmes have been developed to help those unfamiliar with this type of offender behaviour to recognise warning signs and look out for potential escalations in risk.
To find out more about ORA visit www.ora-elearning.co.uk