Why boys are likely to get lost than girls

Abandoned children at Milimani Law Courts’ rescue centre in Nairobi during an identification parade last week. According to an official, the rate of children being abandoned has increased drastically. [PHOTO: DAVID NJAAGA/STANDARD]

Majority of the children who find their way to the Nairobi Children’s Rescue Centre are boys.

The government-run home for children who are lost, abandoned or neglected, orphans and children whose mothers are in prison receive more boys than girls.

According to Jane Munuhe, the centre’s deputy manager and a children’s officer, out of the 39 children at the home, 31 are boys.

Ms Munuhe said most children get lost because they are left unsupervised for long periods of time, “and you will find that this is the time boys will go exploring only to forget their way back home.”

She added that there also might be a cultural factor where boys might be abandoned or neglected because they may be a bit too demanding to the parents.

“Some parents may feel that the boy-child may become demanding, for example asking for inheritance when they are grown up and feel they cannot deal with that,” she said.

Munuhe said that on average, the centre receives 15 to 20 children in a month with each child expected to stay at the centre for only six months.

She also pointed out that the centre only holds children below seven years.

“The children we receive can only stay with us for up to six months and after that we either reunite them with their families after following the necessary procedures to ensure the environment is safe for them to go back. If that option does not work, and we cannot find a relative who can care for them, we take them to our sister centres that care for children who are above seven years to 17 years,” she said.

Munuhe said children who cannot go back to their homes after the six months are often taken to other charitable centres they have partnered with or their sister centres in Thika and Machakos.

“The Thika Children’s Rescue Centre houses boys who are above seven years to about 17 years and the Machakos Children’s Rescue Centre houses girls of the same age bracket,” she said. The centre has had a few success stories where children have been reunited with their parents.

“When a parent comes to us and claims that one of the children is theirs, we usually ask for proof in the form of say birth certificates, pictures of the child together with the parent to ascertain that they are indeed the parent,” she said.

She added: “You should note that when returning a child to their parent or a guardian, the court has to grant that permission.”

Munuhe pointed out that some of the children they receive are runaways who were not happy with their lives, noting that of the 39 children at the centre, 15 are neglect cases.