Tonight (Tuesday 26th January 2016) BBC3 will broadcast a new docudrama about the murder of 14-year old Breck Bednar after he was groomed online. The programme ‘Murder Games’ sees Breck’s family and friends recount how Breck was manipulated and isolated by Lewis Daynes, then aged 18, over the course of nine months. Breck was ultimately persuaded to meet Daynes in person at his Essex flat. Lewis Daynes was sentenced to life in prison and will serve a minimum of 25 years in custody. Further information about the case can be found here.
Young people are likely to be aware of, and watch this programme. Schools may wish to take this as an opportunity to discuss the risks of online grooming with children. Schools may wish to use the Think U Know videos and supporting teaching materials with pupils aged 11+ which are available to download from the Thinkuknow Resources section. The Thinkuknow website also has article for teenagers about online grooming and gaming, which can be used to encourage young people to think about who they are really talking to online. They are no-nonsense guides, which highlight the warning signs and provide realistic tips for safe chat as well as where to get help if things go wrong.
To support schools, the BBC has produced a package of teaching resources to accompany the BBC3 programme which are intended for pupils aged 14+ and aim to support the PSHE and Citizenship curriculum. The resources contain three clips from the docudrama and printable teacher notes featuring teaching ideas and key questions with a handout for pupils providing context and background to the story. These will be published on the Murder Games programme page after the show has been broadcast.
Schools should encourage parents and carers to watch the programme to remind parents and carers that what happened in this tragic case is very rare. However it is very important to have regular, open discussions with their child about what they are doing online, how to recognise risks and what to do if they are worried. It is particularly important to remind children how to report concerns and also to encourage parents and carers to seek support if they are concerned that their child might be being groomed. They can contact their local police, children’s social care department or report directly to CEOP. If a child is at immediate risk the police should be contacted via 999. Concerns can also be discussed with someone directly via the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000. Schools can signpost parents and carers to the Think U Know Parents site for more information on online grooming and further advice and guidance on keeping their child safe from abuse and exploitation.
Content adapted from Think U Know