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08/27/2010 09:46 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Nigerian Children Accused Of Witchcraft By Parents (VIDEO)

In Nigeria, the fear of witchcraft is rooted in centuries of tradition. However, in the past decade, that deeply ingrained superstition has sparked a startling new trend, with scores of Nigerian children now being accused of practicing black magic by their parents.

According to reports, local pastors claim witches are the cause of the nation's widespread illness and poverty. The reasons why many Nigerian parents ultimately suspect their children of witchcraft are unknown, though it may be as simple as the child talking in his or her sleep. While pastors offer high-priced "exorcisms," many of the poverty-stricken parents take to abusing, torturing and, in some cases, abandoning their child as a result.

"When a child is accused of being a witch -- that child is hated absolutely by everybody surrounding him so such children are sent out of the home," Sam Ikpe-Itauma, founder of Child's Rights & Rehabilitation Network (CRARN) in Nigeria, told CNN. He estimates that thousands are local children are affected: "A lot of them, they're either killed, abandoned by the parents, tortured in the church or trafficked out of the city."

Watch CNN's full report on the Nigerian child "witch trials" here:

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