Louisa Clein insists Emmerdale's teacher/pupil abuse storyline is "important" to tell.
The 39-year-old actress' character, history teacher Maya Stepney, shared a smooch with 15-year-old school pupil Jacob Gallagher (Joe-Warren Plant) on last night's (03.12.18) episode, sparking some online backlash.
But she has defended the plot, admitting she hopes the storyline will help at least one person who has been affected by a similar situation in real life.
She tweeted: "It is such an important story to tell, however uncomfortable the viewing may be.
"If it can help one person, then our job is done. There are many places to turn to if you have been affected by this storyline. #bernados #emmerdale (sic)"
It is such an important story to tell, however uncomfortable the viewing may be
Louisa, Joe-Warren, and Matthew Wolfenden, who plays Jacob's step-dad and Maya's boyfriend David Metcalfe, have teamed up with Barnardo's, who advised them about the hard-hitting plot.
And the former Judge John Deed star admits it was "extraordinary" working with the children's charity.
She wrote on Twitter: "This was an essential and extraordinary meeting."
The trio met with experts and young men, to help them to better understand how their characters would behave and what they would feel.
The youngsters have been supported by a project called Better Futures Cymru, which provides therapeutic services for children and young people from across Wales with sexualised histories, including young people who have been the victims of sexual abuse or child sexual exploitation.
Emmerdale producer Laura Shaw said: "It was important for us to tell this storyline authentically, so we approached Barnardo’s for advice on scripts and character behaviour.
"Our researchers, story team- along with actors Louisa, Matthew and Joe-Warren - met with Barnardo’s experts and young men who have been supported by the charity.
"We met some incredible individuals and were moved by their courage and willingness to help us tell this story sensitively.
"Hopefully it will make young people and their parents more aware of these issues and their impact."
Emmerdale airs weeknights at 7pm on ITV, with an extra episode at 8pm on Thursdays
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