Plans announced to safeguard children and young people from abuse linked to faith or belief.
The action plan is intended to help raise awareness of the issue of child abuse linked to faith or belief and to encourage people to take practical steps to prevent such abuse.
The plan looks at tackling abuse linked to faith or belief from the perspective of the child, parent or carers, community and faith group members and child practitioners. It is organised into four themes:
- engaging communities
- empowering practitioners
- supporting victims and witnesses
- communicating key messages.
The action plan highlights that closer engagement between key parties such as the government, local agencies and voluntary and faith and community sector partners needs to be achieved to address this horrific form of abuse.
Children's Minister Tim Loughton said: "Child abuse is appalling and unacceptable wherever it occurs and whatever form it takes.
"Abuse linked to faith or belief in spirits, witchcraft or possession is a horrific crime, condemned by people of all cultures, communities and faiths - but there has been a 'wall of silence' around its scale and extent.
Andrew Flanagan, chief executive of the NSPCC, said: "The vast majority of people in communities where witchcraft is practised are horrified by these acts and take no part in this atrocious behaviour. So we must not be afraid to raise this issue so the offenders can be exposed.
"Most importantly, everyone must play their part by watching out for unusual activity and reporting it as early as possible. We must never forget this is about child cruelty not culture and we cannot afford to wait until another child is murdered before decisive action is taken."
BBC News Education & Family
Department for Education
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