The mother of a 14-year-old boy murdered by an online predator is working with police on a film about his killing as part of a campaign to raise awareness of the sexual exploitation of boys.
Lorin LaFave, the mother of Breck Bednar, who was murdered in 2014 after being groomed online, is working with several police forces on the film. It will be modelled on Kayleigh’s Love Story, a film made by Leicestershire police about a 15-year-old schoolgirl who was killed after being groomed by a man who sent her an unsolicited Facebook message. Made with the support of the victim’s family, Kayleigh’s Love Story has been widely screened at local schools and viewed by an estimated 35 million people online.
LaFave hopes the film telling the story of her son’s murder will also go viral and bring home to young boys the danger posed by online predators. “I feel that this sort of method is one that will get through because it’s quick and engaging and will get the message across to young people in a way that they will find interesting,” she said. “Rather than a big list of rules, dos and don’ts that would just bore them, this is something they can watch and share.”
Leicestershire police are seeking to commission an independent film-maker to produce the short film, with the working title Breck’s Last Game.
Large-scale criminal trials following the grooming of girls and young women in some English cities have increased public awareness of child sexual exploitation (CSE), but many experts and practitioners believe that not enough attention is given to male victims. Recent UK studies found that male victims made up between 11% and 29% of known or suspected victims.
“The problem is, I believe, being under-reported, and it is for that reason this film is being made, to increase awareness,” said Matthew Ditcher, a detective chief inspector who leads the Leicestershire force’s CSE team.
Lewis Daynes, the 19-year-old computer engineer who groomed Breck over the internet before luring him to his flat and killing him, was sentenced in 2015 to a minimum of 25 years in prison. Breck had told his parents he was sleeping at a friend’s house near their home in Caterham, Surrey, but secretly travelled to see Daynes in Grays, Essex, after months of talking on an online gaming forum.
LaFave, who subsequently founded the Breck Foundation to educate young people and their parents about online grooming and internet safety, now speaks regularly to schoolchildren.
“Young people often know the right answers but they don’t want to talk about what they are really doing online or what they are seeing because they are afraid their technology will be taken away or someone will tell on them,” she said.
While progress is being made, LaFave said she still encounters situations that are much less open than in other European countries. “It can be difficult sometimes speaking at schools here because you don’t know what the children have been told, but I would rather have my children know the proper words, the proper descriptions of things. A lot of times you can get the giggling when you try to talk about paedophiles.
“I have even had teachers say to me, ‘We are so glad that you have been so open because we would be afraid to speak that way’.”