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New research into child abuse linked to faith and belief

Project will create national guidelines

Dr Lisa Oakley (pictured) and Dr Kathryn Kinmond will be working on the project

TWO leading academics in the field of spiritual abuse are proposing to create national guidelines that could help reduce child abuse linked to faith and belief.

Dr Lisa Oakley, from Manchester Metropolitan University, met with the Victoria Climbié Foundation, the Churches’ Child Protection Advisory Service and Chanon Consulting to discuss the potential for research which will draw out the principal characteristics of cases of child abuse linked to faith and belief create a checklist for practitioners and establish the incidence of this abuse in the UK.

Dr Oakley and Dr Kathryn Kinmond, also from MMU, will be working together on this research.

Dr Oakley, who leads the University’s Abuse Studies degree programme, said: “The basic premise is to look at how we can prevent child abuse linked to faith and belief. There is very little academic evidence in this area and we are looking to provide that.”

Unique opportunity

Mor Dioum, from the Victoria Climbié foundation, said: “It is important that we understand the prevalence of this type of abuse to effectively address it at local and national level. It is also important that we continue to learn, research, share and develop best practice to address child abuse linked to faith or belief, and to work together with our partners to achieve positive outcomes for children and families affected by this type of abuse.”

Christine Christie from Chanon Consulting said: “Our experience reflects the reports to the Education Select Committee 2012 that an increasing number of children in the UK are being harmed in the belief that ‘it will get the devil out of them’.

“We should be taking this as a call to re-energise the national effort to educate communities and professionals and safeguard all our children. There is support for this in the form of a national Action Plan tackle Child Abuse linked to Faith or Belief and National guidance on Safeguarding children from abuse linked to a belief in spirit possession. However, the Guidance - and the research it is based on - is seven years out-of-date. Much has been learned since then.

“This project provides a unique opportunity for us to re-energise the national effort by updating the research and revising the national guidance.”

Notes to editors

For more information, contact Kat Dibbits in the Manchester Metropolitan University press office on 0161 247 5278 or email

Published Thursday, 19th March 2015 Bookmark and Share

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