Golddigger believe young people could be at risk of being targeted in some of the most public and therefore trusted places in the city – in busy shopping centres and the picturesque Peace Gardens.
“Older boys and young men who want girls for sex hang around where groups of teenagers meet. They like to have a good vantage point to look down on girls innocently socialising below,” claims Beth. “They stage an “accidental” meeting, tell the girl how lovely she is and ask them out on a date.” They become a boyfriend in name only; the girl gets no further dates, no romance or conversation. But she is expected to have sex whenever it is demanded.
“The stories we hear from the girls we work with bear this out. The girls get into these fake relationships without realising what’s going on. Then they daren’t refuse sex for fear of losing their boyfriend and their status with their peers.”
The women’s claims are supported by the statistics of the UK’s most respected children’s charity. A recent survey in association with the NSPCC found that one in four teenage girls had been physically abused in a relationship before the age of 18.
Beth says: “That means for each school year group that Golddigger Trust teaches, around 30 of them will be in an abusive relationship before they leave school, that’s 150 girls PER school.
“We want to stop this from happening – and help the girls already in an exploitative sexual relationship to get out.”