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Reports of beatings to drive out 'evil spirits' from kids rise

Social workers recorded 1,630 claims of child abuse linked to faith or belief (CALFB), compared to 1,460 in the previous year, Department for Education figures reveal.

Justin Humphreys from the Christian child safeguarding charity ThirtyOne:Eight told Premier the figures concern a "hidden problem" and are probably just the "tip of the iceberg".

He said: "There's probably going to be a significant amount of surprise because this is an area that we still need to know more about."

Cases might also include false accusations of children being witches or forcing them to undergo exorcisms.

Justin Humphreys continued: "What we, sadly, find is that disabled children and children with mental health difficulties are likely to feature highly in these figures."

According to the National FGM Centre - a group which tackles harmful cultural practises - child abuse linked to faith or belief might even include the killing of children in the hope their death brings supernatural benefits.

Justin Humphreys said CALFB can affect people of various faiths and none - adding that churches must help expose the problem.

He had this advice to churches: "Don't try to tackle it on your own. Seek proper support, advice and guidance - and don't be afraid to act in the interests of children."

Click here to listen to Premier's Alex Williams speaking with Justin Humphreys at ThirtyOne:Eight:

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