Feeds

Coronation Street to tackle Net pedo issue

British soap will highlight 'grooming' problem

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

The number one UK soap Coronation Street is to feature a storyline in which the issue of paedophiles "grooming" kids over the Net will be played out by main character Sarah Louise Platt.

Sarah Platt - played by actress Tina O'Brien - is 15 years old and is one of the soap's most popular characters. Sarah had a baby aged just 13, and so enjoys a very limited social life due to having to balance looking after her child with school.

In the upcoming storyline, Tina will turn to the Internet in her bedroom as a way of meeting people. While visiting chatrooms, she is befriended by a 16-year-old boy who shares her interests and sends her a photo of himself. It turns out however that it is a man posing as a 16-year-old, and when he persuades Sarah to meet him face-to-face, she finds herself in a very dangerous situation.

The soap is steering carefully around the issue by making the online chats between two people of consenting age - Sarah, although she is actually 15, claims she is 16 while chatting online.

Under proposed Home Office legislation, an adult posing as a teenager will be subject to a banning order and then to a jail sentence of up to five years if this order is broken.

A spokeswoman for the production company Granada confirmed the writers would be talking to the Home Office regarding the story, which is expected to peak in June/July. "We have been in touch with the Home Office," she told us. "But it is very difficult at the moment with the election on and the government in purdah. We hope to work with it afterwards though."

As for the reason behind the plot, the spokewoman told us they hoped to highlight the issue of Internet crime, given recent publicity by the Tonight with Trevor MacDonald show and TV presenter Carol Vordermann.

The show should also prove a far more effective measure in tackling concern over Internet chatrooms than either the melodramatic outpourings of celebrities or the authoritarian and legislative approach of the government.

"Sarah is hugely popular and a great role model for teenagers," the spokeswoman told us. "No matter how many politicians talk about the problem, they will never beat a peer in getting the message across. Plus, we know that many parents and kids watch the show side by side. Hopefully, we will spark some debate and then we would have done a good public service."

It's hard to argue with that logic. However, while the show should do more to make kids aware of the potential dangers of chatrooms, we remain concerned that it could also be used to kick up a storm that will see unnecessary and draconian legislation pushed through on a wave of public worry. ®

Related Stories

Home Office proposes new Net pedo laws
Govt whips up chatroom pedo hysteria
Govt offers Net advice to schools
Police swoop on Internet paedophiles

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
'Cowardly, venomous trolls' threatened with TWO-YEAR sentences for menacing posts
UK government: 'Taking a stand against a baying cyber-mob'
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Arab States make play for greater government control of the internet
Nerds told to get lost in last-minute power grab bid at UN meeting
Zippy one-liners, broken promises: Doctor Who on the Orient Express
Series finally hits stride, but Clara's U-turn is baffling
Don't bother telling people if you lose their data, say Euro bods
You read that right – with the proviso that it's encrypted
Apple SILENCES Bose, YANKS headphones from stores
The, er, Beats go on after noise-cancelling spat
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.