Child Abuse Linked to Faith or Belief

The term ‘belief in spirit possession’ is the belief that an evil force has entered a child and is controlling him or her. Sometimes the term ‘witch’ is used and is the belief that a child is able to use an evil force to harm others. There is also a range of other language that is connected to such abuse. This includes black magic, kindoki, ndoki, the evil eye, djinns, voodoo, obeah, demons, and child sorcerers. In all these cases, genuine beliefs can be held by families, carers, religious leaders, congregations, and the children themselves that evil forces are at work. Families and children can be deeply worried by the evil that they believe is threatening them, and abuse often occurs when an attempt is made to ‘exorcise’, or ‘deliver’ the child. Exorcism is the attempt to expel evil spirits from a child. The belief in ‘possession’ or ‘witchcraft’ is widespread. It is not confined to particular countries, cultures or religions, nor is it confined to new immigrant communities in this country. Any concerns about a child which arise in this context must be taken seriously. (Safeguarding Children from Abuse Linked to a Belief in Spirit Possession 2007)

Where the concerns about abuse linked to witchcraft and spirit possession for the welfare and safety of the child or young person are such that a contact to Sefton MASH must be made. Information for those who work with children to help raise awareness and prevent child abuse arising from religion or superstition a national action plan has been developed. This can be found at:-



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