Child abuse connected with witchcraft and demonic possession on the rise in Nottingham
There has been 68 cases in Nottingham alone
Child abuse connected with religious beliefs such as witchcraft and demonic possession is on the rise in Nottingham.
Department of Education statistics have shown that social services identified 68 potential abuse cases in Nottingham linked to faith or belief in 2017/18.
These include cases where the abuser believes a child is a witch, has been possessed by a spirit, demons or the devil, or has brought bad fortune into the home in other ways.
They can also include cases where fear of the supernatural is used to make children comply with being trafficked for domestic slavery or sexual exploitation.
The 68 cases seen in Nottingham last year is up by 36 percent compared to 2016/17, when 50 cases were identified – and experts warn that the true scale of abuse is likely far greater.
A further nine cases were identified in the rest of Nottinghamshire – up from fewer than six.
Nationally, the number of potential abuse cases has risen from 1,460 in 2016/17 to 1,630 last year.
A Department for Education spokeswoman said: “Any form of violence or abuse towards children is completely unacceptable and no belief system can justify the abuse of a child.
“Those responsible for child abuse linked to faith or belief are subject to prosecution, and our statutory guidance is clear: anyone who has concerns about a child’s welfare should report this to children’s social care or the police immediately.”
Dr Charlotte Baker of Lancaster University has worked on these issues alongside the UN, the Witchcraft and Human Rights Information Network and the UK National Working Group on Child Abuse Linked to Faith and Belief.
She said: “I was shocked when these figures were published. To discover all these cases right on our doorstep really brought it home to me how widespread an issue we face.
“We believe that the figures are likely to considerably underestimate the true number of children being abused, as victims and families are reluctant to speak to children’s social services, who record this data.
“This kind of abuse is often hidden within communities and in families, so a major focus must be on providing social workers and child safeguarding practitioners with training in identifying, assessing and intervening in families where children are at risk of witchcraft accusation and abuse.
“Being accused can damage or destroy family life and relationships, and have a lasting impact on a child’s development and life experience.”
Abuse linked to faith or belief can be physical, emotional or sexual, and the consequences can be profound and long-lasting.
In some instances the abuse can even lead to death, as in the case of Victoria Climbie – an 11-year-old from London who was murdered in 2000 by her aunt and her aunt’s boyfriend, who believed she was possessed by an evil spirit.
Child abuse linked to faith or belief is not confined to one faith, nationality, ethnic group or community.
https://get.convrse.media/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nottinghampost.com%2Fnews%2Fnottingham-news%2Fchild-abuse-connected-witchcraft-demonic-2441039%3Futm_source%3Dtwitter.com%26utm_medium%3Dsocial%26utm_campaign%3Dsharebar&cre=bottom&cip=23Cases have been recorded worldwide across various religions, including Christians, Muslims and Hindus.
Not all with the belief go on to harm children. The number of known cases suggests that only a small minority of people who believe in witchcraft or spirit possession go on to abuse children.
An NSPCC spokesman said: “There is absolutely no excuse for child abuse and it is vital that anyone concerned about a young person speaks out. It could save them from further harm and ensure they get the help they need.
“Professionals also play a crucial role in spotting the warning signs of this kind of abuse, which can often be shrouded in secrecy.
“The NSPCC Helpline on 0808 800 5000 has trained advisors available to discuss in confidence any concerns about a child’s welfare. Childline is also there for young people, 24/7, on 0800 1111.”