Family

As Paganism in the form described here is a relatively new religion, most adult Pagans were not born into Pagan families, but ‘found’ Paganism at some stage in their lives. However, as the decades go by, an increasing number of children are born to Pagan parents. These tend to be very cautious about putting any pressure on children to follow any particular practice or belief, as Paganism is an individual choice. Some Pagan groups will not accept members under 18, and the Pagan Federation only recently lowered its age of membership from 18 to 16. Nevertheless, many under 16s find Paganism for themselves, and many children in Pagan families will naturally be familiar with Pagan practices, beliefs, symbols and festivals as practised by their parents.

It is important that teachers familiarise themselves with the religious backgrounds of Pagan children and respect the beliefs and values of the family in the same way that they would for children from more familiar traditional faith backgrounds. ‘My mum’s a witch’ could be quite an unremarkable statement from some children, meaning that their mother practises modern Pagan witchcraft.

However, there have been concerns in recent years about beliefs in spirit possession and in witchcraft in the sense of malevolent sorcery, that can lead to abuse of children or adults believed to be practising malevolent sorcery or possessed by spirits. These beliefs are usually held by people who have migrated to the UK from nations and cultures where witchcraft is a label applied to practices believed be harmful. A government guidance document has been created to help teachers and those who have responsibility for children to address potential safeguarding issues connected with beliefs in spirit possession which can lead to child abuse: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/175437/Action_Plan_-_Abuse_linked_to_Faith_or_Belief.pdf

Modern Pagan witchcraft does not have any connection with beliefs in spirit possession of that kind, or with child abuse as a means to remove that possession.

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