POLICE will visit schools urging young girls to report sex offences they may have been subjected to.

Officers will specifically talk with 13 and 14-year-olds and also warn them of the consequences of making false allegations of rape.

The new project will be piloted at four schools in Southend, where pupils in Year 9 will be given a programme of lessons over a school term. As well as educating youngsters about sexual violence, the initiative will offer referrals to pregnancy counsellors for teenagers who are already sexually active.

Parent Rita Hickey, of Elmsleigh Drive, Leigh, who has a 15-year-old daughter, Kirsty, feels the lessons are a positive idea, provided they are appropriately presented.

She said: “It’s good to encourage awareness and I think this would be a good thing, as long as it’s done the right way.

“It’s all part of education these days. Nowadays kids are so much more mature and are often more knowledgeable than adults.”

The new project is being spearheaded by Southend police in partnership with Southend Council and the South East Essex Primary Care Trust.

The Sexual Safety Awareness Group, being chaired by Southend police’s Det Chief Insp Lesley Ford, is still in the early stages of planning and it is not yet known which schools it will visit.

The details of the group were revealed in the quarterly report of Essex’s Chief Constable Jim Barker-McCardle.

It read: “The Sexual Safety Awareness Group has been set up to deliver a consistent message to young people regarding sexual safety. The agreed aims of the group include promoting sensible choices and responsible reporting.

“Support services include a referral to teenage pregnancy counsellors for teenagers who are engaging in, or considering engaging in, sexual activity.

“Responsible reporting is about encouraging young people to report acts of sexual violence against them, whilst at the same time explaining the consequences of making false reports to police and other services.”

Tracy Williams, 48, of Wakering Road, Shoebury, who has daughters aged 17 and 14, said: “I think a lot of teenagers are largely unaware of the dangers of some of the situations they can find themselves in.

“Parents should educate their daughters about these things, but sadly that doesn’t always happen, so this must be a good thing.

“I would want to see parents involved in this process, though.

“If social services and police are dealing with teenagers who are in trouble, then parents should be involved, rather than it all being done behind their backs.”