1.5.1 Belief in 'Possession' or 'Witchcraft'
Belief in 'possession' or 'witchcraft' is widespread and not confined to particular countries, cultures, religions or immigrant communities.
The children involved can suffer damage to their physical and mental health, capacity to learn, ability to form relationships and self esteem.
Children may be perceived as being different or difficult, and this attributed to them being 'possessed' or involved in 'witchcraft'. Attempts to 'exorcise' the child may be made and these may involve severe beatings, burning, starvation, cutting or stabbing and/or isolation. This usually occurs within the child's household.
Agencies should look for possible indicators and apply basic safeguarding principles including information sharing across agencies, in order to be able to identify children at risk of this type of abuse.
For further information see:
- National Action Plan to tackle child abuse linked to faith or belief, Department For Education (2012);
- Safeguarding Children from Abuse Linked to a Belief in Spirit Possession (2007);
- Child Abuse Linked to Accusations of “Possession and Witchcraft”, Department for Education (2006).