Protecting children from faith-based abuse through accusations of witchcraft and spirit possession: understanding contexts and informing practice

Journal article


Whittaker, AJ and Briggs, S (2018). Protecting children from faith-based abuse through accusations of witchcraft and spirit possession: understanding contexts and informing practice. British Journal of Social Work. 48 (8), pp. 2157-2175. https://doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bcx155
AuthorsWhittaker, AJ and Briggs, S
Abstract

Faith-based abuse relating to the practice of witchcraft and spirit possession is a controversial and not well-understood form of child abuse. From its ‘discovery’ in the UK as a cause of abuse, serious injury and death for children, in 2000 to the present, the recent history of witchcraft and spirit possession involves some high-profile cases, involving serious harm and death for some children, which attracted significant publicity. This article reviews research and commentary, including grey literature, and the emerging policy framework. It discusses the underpinning relationship between faith-based practices and abuse, and takes a post-colonial perspective to discuss the social explanations for the continuing practice of witchcraft and spirit possession in contemporary society. These discussions are then shown to inform practice. Practice priorities are informed assessment of suspected cases, through early and statutory interventions, care for survivors, and an important focus on community engagement to prevent this form of child abuse.

KeywordsWitchcraft and spirit possession; Child abuse and protection; Religion; Faith-based abuse; Community engagement
Year2018
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Journal citation48 (8), pp. 2157-2175
PublisherOUP
ISSN0045-3102
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bcx155
Publication dates
Print18 Jan 2018
Publication process dates
Deposited19 Dec 2017
Accepted04 Nov 2017
Accepted author manuscript
License
File Access Level
Open
Additional information

This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced version of an article accepted for publication in British Journal of Social Work following peer review. The version of record Whittaker, AJ and Briggs, S (2017) Protecting children from faith-based abuse through accusations of witchcraft and spirit possession: understanding contexts and informing practice. British Journal of Social Work. (In Press) will be available online at: https://academic.oup.com/bjsw

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