Launch of Safeguarding Children's Rights report
At a joint conference with the London Safeguarding Children Board, Trust for London launched the independent evaluation report of its Safeguarding Children's Rights special initiative.
Safeguarding Children's Rights was set up in 2007 to address the issue of faith-based child abuse linked to beliefs in spirit possession. Although this is a problem across many cultures and faiths, the initiative focuses on London's African communities as it was established in response to concerns raised with Trust for London by African community groups we were already funding.
The evaluation was undertaken by the Centre for Social Work Research.
Download the Safeguarding summary.pdf.
Download the Safeguarding final report.pdf.
The papers from the final conference are available from the London Safeguarding Children Board website.
We are grateful to City Bridge Trust for hosting the launch event at The Guildhall.
Media coverage of the final report is here.
Key findings include:
- Beliefs in spirit possession and witchcraft are widespread among many African communities but the incidence of abuse appears to be low. Belief is not in itself evidence of maltreatment.
- Where there is abuse linked to these beliefs, it is not a separate category of abuse but can be understood using the identified forms of abuse: physical, sexual, emotional and neglect.
- Faith organisations have a critical role in many African communities. While many offer help and support, some unscrupulous faith leaders are in a position to exploit vulnerable individuals.
- Community-led approaches to promoting child safeguarding are scarce and have been shown to be critical in engaging socially excluded communities; and in changing attitudes and behaviour.
The key recommendations included:
- Protecting children from faith-based abuse should be located first and foremost in ensuring application of the existing child protection framework.
- Protecting children from abuse linked to beliefs in Witchcraft and Spirit Possession should be part of mainstream child safeguarding and the harm to children located under one of the four recognised categories of abuse: physical, sexual and emotional abuse and neglect.
- LSCBs should map and maintain contact with all local churches and other faith organisations, in order to ensure that appropriate systems are in place to protect children in their congregations.
- Statutory and independent funders and commissioners should support community led activities to promote understanding of child development and child protection -- and to raise awareness of abuse, especially among newer communities.
- There is a need for a continued programme of training and education for African faith leaders about child development, children's rights and UK child protection law.
Click on 'full screen' at the bottom of the window above to see the booklet at actual size.