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The Family Education Trust warns: 'Unless we learn the lessons, the exploitation and abuse will only continue'

BBC drama Three Girls - which tells the real life story of grooming and sexual exploitation in Rochdale - has shocked the nation. But the Family Education Trust have warned this abuse will continue unless we take action.

BBC One's three-part drama, Three Girls, is undoubtedly one of the most powerful pieces of drama to ever be shown on British TV.

Shining a light on the horrors experienced by the real-life victims of grooming and sexual abuse in Rochdale, it's left viewers up and down the country upset and angry.

READ: Everything you need to know about BBC drama Three Girls

Molly Windsor plays one of the young victimes (Credit: BBC)

However, while the cases highlighted in Three Girls may be historical, UK charity, Family Education Trust, are keen to stress that this abuse is by no means an isolated incident.

"What happened in Rochdale was not unique," they explain.

"Over the past five years, serious case reviews have reported on child sexual exploitation perpetrated against vulnerable young women in regions as far apart as Torbay, Liverpool, Thurrock, Oxfordshire, Hampshire and Bristol. In addition, in 2014 Professor Alexis Jay published the findings of her independent inquiry into child sexual exploitation in Rotherham between 1997-2013."

READ: Rotherham abuse victim Sammy Woodhouse opens up about her ordeal: 'He beat me if I tried to leave'

Maxine Peake and Lesley Sharp star as a sexual health worker and detective who helped the victims (Credit: BBC)

What's more, they've warned that unless we learn serious lessons, this situation will be repeated again and again.

Family Education Trust director, Norman Wells, whose review of these reports was published last week observed: "All eight reports tell the same story: underage sex was viewed as a normal part of growing up and relatively harmless provided it was consensual. Again and again it was assumed that the girls were making 'lifestyle choices'. There was a readiness among professionals to routinely provide contraception in confidence, without considering the possibility that the young people may be suffering abuse."

Talking about the fact that police and social services dismissed the concerns of the victims' parents for years on end, Norman added: "The reports in Rochdale and the other regions reveal an inclination to treat children under the age of 16 as adults with the competence to make their own decisions with regard to sexual activity and a tendency to dismiss the concerns of their parents out of hand.

"The underlying problems are social, cultural and moral. It is time to grasp the nettle and get to the root of the crisis. A review of professional attitudes towards underage sexual activity is long overdue."

In conclusion, Norman offered this stark warning: "If we continue to turn a blind eye to the root causes of the current malaise, we can expect to see yet more horrific cases of child sexual exploitation."

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There's a petition for BBC's Three Girls to be shown as an educational programme in schools

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