In this modern day and age, it is disheartening to see Kenyan children face rights abuses and violations of various forms.
Despite years of civic and rights education, far too many children still fall victim to preventable ills such as child trafficking, neglect, sexual exploitation and forced labour.
The Violence Against Children Survey Report 2019 released this week by the Labour and Social Protection ministry lays bare the brutality thousands of children are subjected to by the very people they trust to protect them at home, in schools and elsewhere.
Shockingly, parents, caregivers and adult relatives feature prominently among the biggest perpetrators of physical violence, affecting 37.9 per cent of male and 28.9 per cent of female children.
The report observes that physical violence is the most common type of abuse experienced in childhood in Kenya. Nearly two out of five female children (38.8 per cent) surveyed and half of males (51.9 per cent) experienced physical violence.
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On sexual violence, the survey found that among the 15.6 per cent of females who experienced childhood sexual violence, two in three of them experienced multiple incidents before attaining age 18.
Violence, whether physical, sexual — such as genital mutilation — or emotional, has disastrous consequences. It can lead to delinquency of unimaginable proportions. When children face violence, they can end up with mental health problems. There’s also the issue of unwanted pregnancies and early marriages.
Regrettably, many perpetrators of these abuses get away with it. And in some cases, authorities look the other way. Without a doubt, neighbours, teachers, relatives and community all have a stake in raising a child. We have an obligation to do whatever it takes to make sure our children, the future of this nation, are insulated from harm.
Although the country has made great strides in child welfare, a good way to achieve better outcomes is to revamp our social protection services. But still, not all solutions can be provided by the government.
Parents should start by doing right to their children. Let us be the guardians to the dreams and ambitions of the young. Collectively, this is the only way to secure our nation’s future. Child rights must remain sacrosanct.