The W Word: Witchcraft Labelling and Child Safeguarding in Social Work Practice, Prospera Tedam and Awura Adjoa

The W Word: Witchcraft Labelling and Child Safeguarding in Social Work Practice, Prospera Tedam... I cherished the walk to and from school. It allowed me space to be alone in my thoughts. At school I would stay in the toilet during break because I thought I was evil. As that was what I was being told at home (p. 60). This book introduces witchcraft-related abuse and significantly contributes to the body of work in this area. The text uses a narrative inquiry approach with an expert by experience. In the overview of ‘what is witchcraft’, we are reminded that there is not a universally accepted definition. Faith-based abuse includes witchcraft and the authors make it clear that the text does not relate directly to pagan spirituality. The book starts with an overview of ancient global beliefs and potential myths which illustrates that witchcraft exists in many countries and cultures—Indian, American, English and Islamic, to name a few—and does not exist in one faith or religion. In Part One, the reader is encouraged to reflect upon how various cultures, including Western, African and Eastern, explain ‘ill luck’ and what kinds of rituals such as fasting and prayer are required to appease particular gods or spirits. This presents interesting professional and personal challenges and provides opportunities and suggestions to aide self-reflection and talk through these dilemmas during supervision. For example, I belong to one of these cultures and was ‘taught’ how to fast at a young age. It made me question what I would do as a social worker if I heard that a seven-year-old was told not to eat until night time so that God might help with their studies or prolong the life of their parents. The book provides regular prompts for the reader to reflect and explore these challenges. The reader is taken on a journey of Awura’s transition from West Africa to her ‘new’ birth family in the UK as her true story unfolds. The authors cleverly invite us to pause and analyse our feelings and learning from the previous segment of Awura’s life story by asking a series of reflective questions and providing analysis of the circumstances. Her voice as a child is powerful and it provides an insight into her emotions and isolation. Throughout the book, we can see various points when a little curiosity from professionals could have highlighted concern. For example, for the school to be curious about why she had started living with her grandmother, for the teacher who had started asking whether she was ok to be more questioning when Awura started crying while saying everything was fine and for the GP to speak to her directly instead of just through her father. The book covers areas such as transitions between countries, families and childhood to adolescence, private fostering, physical and emotional neglect and abuse within a UK context. Part Two of the book focuses on a range of policy and legislative frameworks underpinning social work intervention within a UK context. The text artfully uses theory, including family systems, attachment and human development, to explore Awura’s narrative. In addition, the reader is invited to apply professional standards against Awura’s experiences, specifically the Health and Care Professionals Council Standards of Proficiency (SoPs; HCPC, 2017), which every registered social worker in England must meet to remain registered, the Professional Capability Framework (BASW, 2017) and all Knowledge and Skills Statements (www.gov.uk/government/publications/knowledge-and-skills-statements-for-child-and-family-social-work), which are sector and government standards for social workers in England. There is also a values matrix to aid reflection for social workers who may be from backgrounds where similar beliefs are held. This section is valuable to use in one-to-one supervision, group and peer supervision to support and challenge to work through personal and professional dilemmas as mentioned above. The conclusion draws together four dominant themes which have emerged from Awura’s story that are pivotal to ongoing social work practice and policy, namely parents, parenting family and friends; the role of faith organisations and church leaders; school, teachers/education authorities; and travel and transition. There are three useful appendices, one of which is a Witchcraft Labelling Assessment Framework tool offering suggestions of how assessments might be undertaken. The tool draws on existing best-practice models such as cultural competence and assessing risk and vulnerability. The framework can assist a variety of professionals including faith leaders, teachers, social workers and child-care practitioners. This book is easy to read and follow and is a crucial text for all social work students, academics, practitioners and leaders. It is also very relevant for allied professionals such as health visitors, teachers, faith leaders, youth workers and early-help professionals. The book is engaging and interactive, as it offers the opportunity to reflect and challenge, and gives practical tools to aid intervention. References British Association of Social Workers (BASW) ( 2017 ) Professional Capability Framework, available online at www.basw.co.uk/pcf (accessed 13 January 2018). Health and Care Professionals Council (HCPC) ( 2017 ) Standards of Proficiency for Social Workers in England, available online at http://www.hpc-uk.org/assets/documents/10003B08Standardsofproficiency-SocialworkersinEngland.pdf (accessed 13 January 2018). © The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The British Association of Social Workers. All rights reserved. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The British Journal of Social Work Oxford University Press

The W Word: Witchcraft Labelling and Child Safeguarding in Social Work Practice, Prospera Tedam and Awura Adjoa

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Publisher
Oxford University Press
Copyright
© The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The British Association of Social Workers. All rights reserved.
ISSN
0045-3102
eISSN
1468-263X
D.O.I.
10.1093/bjsw/bcx159
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

I cherished the walk to and from school. It allowed me space to be alone in my thoughts. At school I would stay in the toilet during break because I thought I was evil. As that was what I was being told at home (p. 60). This book introduces witchcraft-related abuse and significantly contributes to the body of work in this area. The text uses a narrative inquiry approach with an expert by experience. In the overview of ‘what is witchcraft’, we are reminded that there is not a universally accepted definition. Faith-based abuse includes witchcraft and the authors make it clear that the text does not relate directly to pagan spirituality. The book starts with an overview of ancient global beliefs and potential myths which illustrates that witchcraft exists in many countries and cultures—Indian, American, English and Islamic, to name a few—and does not exist in one faith or religion. In Part One, the reader is encouraged to reflect upon how various cultures, including Western, African and Eastern, explain ‘ill luck’ and what kinds of rituals such as fasting and prayer are required to appease particular gods or spirits. This presents interesting professional and personal challenges and provides opportunities and suggestions to aide self-reflection and talk through these dilemmas during supervision. For example, I belong to one of these cultures and was ‘taught’ how to fast at a young age. It made me question what I would do as a social worker if I heard that a seven-year-old was told not to eat until night time so that God might help with their studies or prolong the life of their parents. The book provides regular prompts for the reader to reflect and explore these challenges. The reader is taken on a journey of Awura’s transition from West Africa to her ‘new’ birth family in the UK as her true story unfolds. The authors cleverly invite us to pause and analyse our feelings and learning from the previous segment of Awura’s life story by asking a series of reflective questions and providing analysis of the circumstances. Her voice as a child is powerful and it provides an insight into her emotions and isolation. Throughout the book, we can see various points when a little curiosity from professionals could have highlighted concern. For example, for the school to be curious about why she had started living with her grandmother, for the teacher who had started asking whether she was ok to be more questioning when Awura started crying while saying everything was fine and for the GP to speak to her directly instead of just through her father. The book covers areas such as transitions between countries, families and childhood to adolescence, private fostering, physical and emotional neglect and abuse within a UK context. Part Two of the book focuses on a range of policy and legislative frameworks underpinning social work intervention within a UK context. The text artfully uses theory, including family systems, attachment and human development, to explore Awura’s narrative. In addition, the reader is invited to apply professional standards against Awura’s experiences, specifically the Health and Care Professionals Council Standards of Proficiency (SoPs; HCPC, 2017), which every registered social worker in England must meet to remain registered, the Professional Capability Framework (BASW, 2017) and all Knowledge and Skills Statements (www.gov.uk/government/publications/knowledge-and-skills-statements-for-child-and-family-social-work), which are sector and government standards for social workers in England. There is also a values matrix to aid reflection for social workers who may be from backgrounds where similar beliefs are held. This section is valuable to use in one-to-one supervision, group and peer supervision to support and challenge to work through personal and professional dilemmas as mentioned above. The conclusion draws together four dominant themes which have emerged from Awura’s story that are pivotal to ongoing social work practice and policy, namely parents, parenting family and friends; the role of faith organisations and church leaders; school, teachers/education authorities; and travel and transition. There are three useful appendices, one of which is a Witchcraft Labelling Assessment Framework tool offering suggestions of how assessments might be undertaken. The tool draws on existing best-practice models such as cultural competence and assessing risk and vulnerability. The framework can assist a variety of professionals including faith leaders, teachers, social workers and child-care practitioners. This book is easy to read and follow and is a crucial text for all social work students, academics, practitioners and leaders. It is also very relevant for allied professionals such as health visitors, teachers, faith leaders, youth workers and early-help professionals. The book is engaging and interactive, as it offers the opportunity to reflect and challenge, and gives practical tools to aid intervention. References British Association of Social Workers (BASW) ( 2017 ) Professional Capability Framework, available online at www.basw.co.uk/pcf (accessed 13 January 2018). Health and Care Professionals Council (HCPC) ( 2017 ) Standards of Proficiency for Social Workers in England, available online at http://www.hpc-uk.org/assets/documents/10003B08Standardsofproficiency-SocialworkersinEngland.pdf (accessed 13 January 2018). © The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The British Association of Social Workers. All rights reserved.

Journal

The British Journal of Social WorkOxford University Press

Published: Feb 2, 2018

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