Over 13,878 cases of child neglect and abandonment have been reported over the last 10 years. Neglect and abandonment have also been identified as the root cause of all other forms of child abuse in Kenya.
A report released by Childline Kenya showed that 75% of child neglect was perpetrated by immediate family members followed by parents and extended family at 17% and 8% respectively.
Childline Kenya Executive Director Mr. George Kidenda said that child neglect is very dangerous as it exposes the child to all other forms of abuse.
“The most reported forms of child neglect is in the form of prohibition from school, lack of medical attention and denial of food. As a result of these forms of abandonment, a child is left open to other forms of abuse,” said Mr. Kidenda.
Since 2006, Childline Kenya has been running a 24-hour National Child Helpline 116 that allows Kenyans to report child abuse. Over the last 10 years, over 33,929 cases of child abuse have been reported through the 116 helpline. The forms of child abuse reported between 2006 – 2016 were:
Child neglect/ abandonment 13878
– Child trafficking, abduction and kidnapping 528
– Child labour 3123
– Emotional abuse 1025
– Female genital mutilation 226
– Physical abuse 7317
– Sexual abuse 7832
Reporting of the child abuse cases has seen a decline in the last four years due to technical issue occasioned by an aging system and Childline Kenya’s diminished ability to create awareness.
Mr. Kidenda said these numbers were merely a shadow of the reality on the ground as many abuse cases go unreported every day.
“Many cases go unreported for fear of being victimized in school. Furthermore, many people do not know that there exists hotlines where incidents of abuse could be reported by anyone who witnesses them. More awareness is therefore needed to empower children on their rights and where to report should their rights be violated,” Mr. Kidenda said.
The report revealed that both girls and boys are equally likely to be abused, and therefore need equal attention and protection. While many of the abuse cases happened outside the home, people well known by the child including relatives were the main perpetrators particularly in sexual abuse cases.
Ms. Kidenda said: “Unfortunately, the most trusted people in a children’s life are the same people that lead in abusing them sexually. Within this reporting period, fathers took the lead of abusing their daughters sexually followed by the uncles. Age group 6-10 years seems to have been at the highest risk of being abused followed by 11-15 years.”
Many Kenyans remain unaware of the available channels for reporting child abuse cases. The calls received through the Childline Helpline were mainly from Nairobi County where there is more awareness. However, in other remote counties where abuse may be more rampant, cases go unreported and only occasionally surface in form of news reports after a major incident.
Mr. Kidenda was speaking during the launch of the Shine A Light campaign that aims to create awareness about child abuses and how Kenyans can help. The campaign aims to raise Kshs 10 million to support the rescue and rehabilitation of abused children.