Page last updated at 10:01 GMT, Wednesday, 2 July 2008 11:01 UK

EastEnders to tackle sexual abuse

Jackson family
Whitney Dean (far left) is played by Shona Mcgarty

BBC One soap EastEnders is to tackle the issue of child sex abuse, the BBC has confirmed.

It is thought the story will involve Bianca Jackson's stepdaughter Whitney and her father, who has yet to be seen on screen.

"The programme is working very closely with the NSPCC so that this subject is accurately and sensitively portrayed," a spokeswoman for the soap said.

It is the first time the series has tackled the issue.

'Awareness'

"EastEnders is a contemporary drama which aims to tackle and reflect real life issues together with raising awareness of the sensitivities that sometimes accompany them," the spokeswoman said.

"EastEnders has successfully drawn attention in the past to a number of sensitive issues including domestic violence, rape and HIV."

Full storyline details have not been released, but it is thought the story will unfold when Whitney's father Tony, whose casting has yet to be announced, is released from prison and appears in Albert Square.

The NSPCC's director of communications, John Grounds, said: "Programmes like EastEnders are increasingly helping to raise awareness of the hidden nature of sexual abuse.

"The NSPCC's work with the BBC on the forthcoming EastEnders storyline is aimed at ensuring the portrayal of child abuse accurately reflects the damage it can do to the victim, their family and the wider community.

"This is vital in persuading people to take action to stop it and encouraging children to speak out," he added.


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