Action plan launched to tackle ritual abuse and neglect


A national action plan aimed at protecting children at risk of ritual abuse and neglect in the name of witchcraft, spirit possession and faith has been published.

It comes as SecEd has published an in-depth article looking at the challenges for schools surrounding this issue and how teachers and school staff can help spot the signs of children at risk. Read this article here.

The action plan sets out what it calls “urgent practical steps” to build intelligence and identify children at risk of abuse.

It proposes stronger training and information for social workers, police and other practitioners working with children. It also wants to see closer engagement with local communities and churches to prevent abuse.

The strategy has been put together by a working group including faith leaders, charities such as the Victoria Climbié Foundation, and the Metropolitan Police.

For schools, the pack outlines a number of ideas, including the development of a training pack for school staff and a focus on faith and community leaders working in schools to raise children’s understanding about faith, culture and safeguarding.

The plan will also see the Victoria Climbié Foundation working with the National College for School Leadership in a bid to get key information across to school leaders.

In the last 10 years, there have been 81 recorded police investigations in London of allegations that children have been abused, where faith has been a factor. Research commissioned by the then Department for Education and Skills in 2006 set out detailed analysis of 38 cases involving 47 children, from Africa, South Asia and Europe, who had been abused in the name of possession or witchcraft. New research into the extent of the problem is expected by the end of the year.

Children’s minister Tim Loughton said: “The number of recorded cases nationally remains tiny but we know that historically, it goes unreported. It’s clear we need to make a stand. This plan will help people recognise and know how to act on evidence, concerns and signs that a child’s health and safety is being threatened. Everyone working with children has a responsibility to recognise and know how to act on evidence that a children is being abused.”

Read the action plan at


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