YOUNG people from the hometown of North East murder victim Ashleigh Hall have helped create a hard-hitting film highlighting the hidden dangers of the internet.
Seventeen-year-old Ashleigh was killed after meeting the predatory sex offender Peter Chapman on the social networking site Facebook.
Shocked and appalled by her tragic death, youngsters from secondary schools and colleges in Darlington, County Durham, came together to work on a film-making project to raise awareness of the dangers of the internet for children and teenagers.
Following the online exploits of the fictional character Chloe – played by local girl Jade Burrows – the 15-minute film centres around the online activities and choices that many teenagers make and deal with on an everyday basis.
Written, acted and directed by industry professionals, Choices.... A Click Too Far was completed earlier this year.
The pupils involved have been congratulated on sharing their ideas and guiding the writer on the type of “internet” language in common use.
Chapman, 33, was jailed for a minimum of 35 years in March for the kidnap, rape and murder of childcare student Ashleigh.
Now the film, dedicated to Ashleigh’s memory, is being used to educate and advise people across the county.
Ray Green, of Darlington Borough Council’s Learning Technologies Team, presented the DVD to an audience at an event promoting E-safety yesterday.
He told The Journal: “Many of the borough’s young people were deeply shocked by Ashleigh Hall’s tragedy and it gave us the opportunity to do something more local and to make something in the voices of those youngsters, which is definitely more powerful in getting the message across.
“Because the youngsters were involved, the message in the film was relevant and up-to-date.
“It very much started as a blank piece of paper, but we liaised with pupils and students and they voiced their ideas.
“The cast was a mixture of local kids and professionals, as well as the script writing and the use of local language. The end product is extremely powerful and we’re extremely pleased and proud of the result.
“We were thrilled with the response from students and pupils in the area.”
Yesterday’s event was hosted by Durham Police and the North East Fraud Forum, and supported by the both the Durham and Darlington Safeguarding Children’s Boards.
The conference was aimed at raising awareness about a range of safety issues among various agencies within County Durham and Darlington, and was held at the Durham Centre, in Belmont. Representatives from the police and other child safety agencies gave presentations and outlined case studies, which highlighted the fact that the best parts of the internet are also the worst in terms of dangers posed to young people.
Anyone interested in the film package should contact the Learning Technologies Team on 01325 406 002.