Images from the film storyboard laid out on a table

A new animation and report, developed by Swansea University’s online safety DRAGON-S project, to assist with anti-grooming training is being launched at a virtual Senedd meeting today.

Strong at the Broken Places, the product of a Lived Experience Expert Group (LEEG) sub-project of DRAGON-S is aimed at ensuring practitioners hear the voices of people with lived experience and recognise the need to highlight their stories.

The animation’s launch will take place at a meeting of the Saving Futures: Cross Party Group on Preventing Child Sexual Abuse which will put the spotlight on the intersection between online harms and school-based peer-on-peer sexual abuse to inform Welsh Government’s proposed action plan addressing the issue.

This event will be led by young people who will support professionals as they come up with recommendations for Welsh Government on keeping young people safe in all the spaces they inhabit.

Launched alongside the animation, the DRAGON-S Strong at the Broken Places report calls for the establishment and support of LEEGs to be routine when working on projects, products or developing policy relating to child sexual abuse and exploitation and provides a series of recommendations to outline best practice in doing this sort of work.

Led by Professor Nuria Lorenzo-Dus, project DRAGON-S (Developing Resistance Against Online Grooming - Spot and Shield) tackles online child sexual grooming through two interrelated tools: an online grooming detector (DRAGON-Spotter) and an online grooming prevention portal (DRAGON-Shield).

Developed in 2021-2022, the ground-breaking project is funded by the End Violence Against Children Fund and supported by project partners Welsh GovernmentTarian ROCU and the Marie Collins Foundation.

The animation forms a core part of DRAGON-Shield, the project’s anti-grooming interactive training platform, which has been collaboratively developed with the Legal Innovation Lab Wales, supported by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government, which will be rolled out across the UK and internationally.

Strong at the Broken Places is the culmination of eight months’ work and aims at emphasising the importance of mainstreaming lived experiences.

Marie Collins Foundation Victim and survivor advocate Rhiannon-Faye McDonald said: “It is essential that the voice of lived experience is heard and incorporated into all the work we are doing to tackle child sexual abuse, and that the process of consulting with victims and survivors is central to the process from beginning to end.”

Professor Lorenzo-Dus said: “We are ready to take this pioneering project to the next level. The success of our research co-creation over almost two years - involving more than 200 child safeguarding and lived experience experts across Wales, England, Scotland, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the USA, together with more than 50 children and young people in Wales - means we can now pilot and evaluate use of DRAGON-Shield in Wales during 2023.

“Participant recruitment for the pilot and evaluation will be ongoing throughout the summer and we invite interested end-user groups to contact us directly to discover what we can do to support your involvement.”

Today’s cross-party meeting, which brought together politicians along with representatives from organisations such as the NSPCC, the Survivors Trust, RASAC North Wales, Stop it Now and Stepping Stones and also featured a call for more survivor lived experiences voices to be heard.

Minister for Education and Welsh Language Jeremy Miles added: “It’s important we help protect children and young people from online harm and promote safe, responsible and considerate behaviour online.

“Events such as today’s offer valuable insight into children and young people’s lived experiences. Their voice must remain central to our work with our partners to develop plans to tackle peer-on-peer sexual harassment.

“I’m pleased that we are partnering with the DRAGON-S on this innovative project.”

Read more about the innovative work of Swansea University’s Project DRAGON-S

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