Witchcraft branding and the abuse of African children in the UK: Causes, effects and professional intervention

Prospera Tedam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


The branding of children as 'witches', capable of harming others is a widespread practice in some countries in Africa and across the world. There is evidence of this within specific communities and faith groups; however, the extent to which this phenomenon occurs in England is unclear as is the response by childcare professionals, statutory agencies and Voluntary Organisations. Between 2000 and 2010, at least six children lost their lives in different parts of the UK following periods of abuse, neglect and trauma linked to what is now known as abuse arising from being labelled 'witches'. Each of these children, died because their parent or carer believed that they were responsible for ill luck, ill fortune and/or ill health that had befallen them and/or members of their families.Drawing upon a children's rights framework, this paper aims to provide a critical examination of child abuse that is caused by a belief that children can and are 'witches' or possess some evil spirits, making them capable of causing harm and discord within a family. Existing literature will be interrogated to provide some background and a historical context to this alarming and abusive practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1403-1414
Number of pages12
JournalEarly Child Development and Care
Issue number9-10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • African families
  • child witches
  • cultural competence
  • faith-based abuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Pediatrics


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