Child abuse linked to spirit possession can be “particularly disturbing and the impact on the child substantial and serious”, the government has warned.
The Department for Education and Skills has identified cases involving 47 children since 2000.
Dealing with a suspected case of abuse or neglect linked to spirit possession can be “daunting” for professionals, who should seek advice from colleagues in their own and other agencies, states new draft guidance.
The non-statutory guidance is intended to help practitioners apply safeguarding protocol Working together to safeguard children to the particular needs of children abused or neglected because of a belief in spirit possession.
Families who fear a child is suffering faith-based abuse may make the situation worse by seeking help from religious groups who are themselves instrumental in such abuse, the DfES explains.
It says children’s services professionals must therefore carry out checks before actively involving any previously unknown faith group in individual cases.
The document includes a checklist to identify child abuse or neglect linked to spirit possession. It says schools are often best placed to identify the abuse.
All agencies can contribute to consultation on the guidance, which runs until 9 March.
Conmmunity Care conference on 27 February working with faith communities to protect children and young people