On the first anniversary of the release of a short film about a boy who was groomed online and murdered, the warning messages it contains seem now more important than ever.
Breck’s Last Game tells the story of 14-year-old Breck Bednar, who was killed by a man he met on a gaming site and since its launch a year ago today (3 April) has been seen by more than three million people.
With schools closed as part of the response to tackle Covid-19 and people spending most of their time indoors, young people will have an added temptation to spend longer periods of time online.
Given the current restrictions, the film’s important message is even more relevant - do you really know who your online friends are?
Deputy Chief Constable Rob Nixon, said : “During this global pandemic, it is inevitable that children and young people will spend more time online, both as part of their schooling but also as a way to relax – possibly using online gaming platforms.
“This can be a lifeline for some teenagers and a great way for them to stay in touch with their friends but unfortunately there will be a small number of people who will use this time to try and exploit them and it’s crucial we don’t lose sight of that.
“Groomers will use these online platforms as a way to get access to groups of young people and will attempt to take advantage.
“We are not suggesting people do not access these services but Breck’s Last Game encourages anyone who is to think about if they really know who it is they are speaking to.
“Many young people and their parents may have seen the film both in school and online. If you haven’t I would encourage you to and if you have, now might be a good time to be reminded of the important messages it contains. It is everyone’s responsibility to keep children and young people safe.”
Breck’s Last Game was the result of a collaborations between four police forces – Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Essex and Surrey. It was initially rolled out in secondary schools in the four force areas before being released to the public in April 2019.
In the first year it is estimated to have reached nearly 3.4 million people online and has been seen by thousands of children in schools. It has also won three awards and is being used as a resource in Australia after the forces were approached by the Australian Federal Police.
Breck mother, Lorin LaFave, was also involved in the making of the film and appears as herself in the film. She too uses the film to educate people as part of her work with the Breck Foundation.
She said: “It’s a year since Breck’s Last Game was publically released but it seems much longer than a year ago to me as so much has happened in our world since then.
“With children now being off school and limited in their outside activities, the natural progression might be that they spend more time online socialising and gaming with friends and inevitably for some, strangers.
“Some of these strangers will be trying to groom and exploit our children, to possibly encourage them to do things that could be harmful to them, so now more than ever, we need to educate young people in an engaging and empowering way using Breck’s story, so that they recognise signs of grooming, know where to go for help, remember that friends online are not the same as school friends and to think though our tagline,
"In these trying times, don’t let a predator build a relationship with your child online, education is key.”
For more information about the film or for advice and support, visit the Breck’s Last Game information page.