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STRICTLY Come Dancing star Kristina Rihanoff has been unveiled as a Trustee of a new charity with the aim to beat abuse and violence against children.
The BBC star has helped form The Dot Com Children's Foundation, with former Sky Newsreader Sharon Doughty, former Prime Minister Tony Blair's daughter Kathryn and Strictly judge Len Goodman's son James Goodman.
The Dot Com Foundation teaches vulnerable schoolchildren about right and wrong behaviour, and how to ask for help if they are victims of physical or sexual abuse using the 'Values Versus' Violence education journals, and a cartoon character called Dot Com. Croydon Council has introduced the programme across all 80 of the Borough's Primary Schools to help combat record reports of domestic violence amongst families.
The charity was launched by Kristina with volunteer civil servants at the Home Office. The star, who used ballroom dancing as a form of escapism growing up, became involved in the charity - set up by former newsreader and child sexual abuse survivor Sharon Doughty - after her experience growing up in Soviet Russia.
She said she hopes her story will help inspire other young people. She said: "Dance lessons were where I felt safe. I want children growing up now to know that if there are problems at home, there is something that can be done and to encourage them to talk about it."
Crime Prevention Minister Norman Baker added: “I am pleased to support the Values Versus Violence programme. This important scheme encourages early intervention to prevent violence and benefits schools, pupils and parents .”
So far 33,000 youngsters in primary schools across the UK have started using the programme in London, Birmingham, Merseyside and Manchester.
The charity aims to get the packs to every school in the country.
Dot Com's Chief Executive Sharon Evans said: "Kristina and I grew up with violence in our homes and I suffered sexual abuse - what we had in common was that we didn't know how to ask for help. I lived just a few miles from Croydon and it is a major development to see the council bring this to all primary schools in the borough. I hope it will become a model for other local authorities to follow across the capital."