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TV show tackles sexual abuse

Italian series seeks to teach children how to deal with harassment

The world’s first children television series about sexual harassment will be screened next year.

Jams will tell the story of an 11-year old  girl called Joy who is harassed by a powerful family friend, a lawyer who plays football with her father.

The show, aimed at nine to 14-year olds, is the first ever to be fully dedicated to tackling the delicate subject, say its producers, Italian state broadcaster – Rai.

Luca Milano the head of Rai Ragazzi (Rai Kids), said that future series might also tackle sexual bullying, abuse and shaming among children themselves.

He said that the makers worked closely with a panel of leading child psychologists before a single scene was written or shot.

“The series was written and is now being directed with the supervision of a neuropsychological team from a hospital in Rome that specialises in this area,” Milano added.

“This team not only helped write the show, they also assisted the kids who are acting in the show. After all, they are only children, and they are having to get across some very difficult moments.”

The story begins with Joy thriving and excelling in a school cooking competition. ” But her mood changes suddenly – and it’s her friends rather than her parents who first realise there is something wrong,” said Milano, who said that the show is designed to empower children to speak out.

“The idea was to teach kids how to identify risky situations , and from the parents side how to see the signals,” he said.

“We also show kids how to speak to adults, because it is not easy to speak to an adult about this.”

Milano said only a public broadcaster could take on such a challenging subject.

“We want to get everything right. You have to be patient and careful. Children respond differently from one year to the next and you have to work out the right words to use.”

Shooting will finish on the show at the end of November. But Rai are already working on an education campaign to accompany the series, with other broadcasters closely watching the results.

Milano admitted that “this is very hard content to go on kids’ channel, but the theme is so important we feel it is the right thing to do.

“It is made realistically and is partly improvised so the children themselves can choose their own words.”

– AFP – The Star

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