This is the month of love. Lots of love is expressed and shared and experienced...but is it so for children as well? Like every living being, children need genuine love and affection within the environments they exist. This allows them to thrive in their childhood and to blossom into responsible adults...but is the needed genuine love available to them? Mercy (not her real name) who is a 15 year old girl, went about her business online checking out different content and chatting with friends. While online, she got a friend request from a person who presented himself as a famous musical artist whose music was the talk of town. Mercy was elated! She accepted the friend request and continued engaging with the celebrity online. The messages between each other were friendly, with each of them sharing details about themselves in detail and getting to know each other better. She felt appreciated and listened to and valued. She had truly gotten a friend. That he was a celebrity made it even more interesting and she felt extra special. After a while, her online friend invited her to join him during a live performance concert outside the country. He promised to take care of all the trip expenses. All she need to do is raise USD300 for visa facilitation. This, he said, was urgent as it was the first step before he could make other logistical arrangements. Mercy started going round asking for money from her friends and relatives, in desperation but with no clear reason why she urgently needed the cash. It was until one of her counsins promised her the full amount in exchange for the truth, that Mercy spilt the beans. The case was reported to Childline Kenya urgently for attention. In close collaboration with the Directorate of Criminal Investigations the true identity of Mercy's "celebrity" was revealed and the fraudulent scheme aborted. Mercy was shocked to know who the true person behind the "celebrity" image was. She was gently psychoeducated on how to keep herself and others safe while on the online space as she continued attending therapy sessions to deal with the resultant trauma. Mercy, like other children her age, enjoyed the sense of belonging and appreciation and therefore fell prey easily to the tricks of her "celebrity" online friend. Childline Kenya works with partners to promote child safety from online sexual exploitation and abuse. The specific activities target four (4) domains as follows:
More partners are invited to join this worthy cause to support children like Mercy who may be taken advantage of on the online space, despite the incredible benefits found on the online space as well. We appreciate all current and past partnerships for the wellbeing of children and look forward to even more partnerships and support. Let us Shine A Light on Child Abuse in Kenya and may we all commit to give warmth to every child around us...or at least to not harm them.
As violence against children continues to hurt individuals, families and whole communities a subtle but lethal phenomenon also lurks in the shadows threatening to grind life to a halt for several people…almost literally. The world has gone through tough seasons in the recent past including the COVID-19 pandemic, reducing funding for service delivery in communities and skyrocketing inflation. All these come with a lot of strains at different levels. It is no wonder therefore that the number of people, including children, who are sinking into depression is increasing at alarming rates sometimes resulting in suicide.
Mary, a 25-year-old mother of a handsome three-year-old boy wrote on her Facebook page of her intention to kill her baby and commit suicide to end her misery. She had gone through a very difficult patch in her life following the unexpected pregnancy and being left as a single mother. It did not help that she was also jobless and struggling to make ends meet. This scary post was flagged by a concerned adult and the same shared with the Childline Kenya team for mental health support.
Through the gentle guidance and therapy by an experienced professional counselor, Mary is gradually recovering from the depression and is thriving together with her son. Through the support of very dear friends of Childline and our GlobalGiving partners Mary has been able to set up a grocery store as a business to raise some money to sustain her and her son. She is also able to continue her therapy sessions.
Thankfully, her social media post was noted in good time and she was linked to the Child helpline team for immediate support. Many other individuals like Mary are in dire situations hoping for someone to “notice them” and bring the much needed help. Unfortunately, many do not get the opportunity or energy to raise their voice and ask for help. Child Helpline 116 service in Kenya exists for all children and their families to find help. Join us to spread the word to ensure that each ear hears this message and keeps it in memory to help any child hurting in any way. The helpline team is available every day 24/7 to provide this much needed assistance. The helpline services can be accessed through dialing 116 free of charge from anywhere in Kenya. Other channels of access to the helpline include WhatsApp: 0722116116, Email: email@example.com, Facebook: Child Helpline 116-Kenya or Childline Kenya, Twitter: @childlinekenya). Anonymous reporting is encouraged with as much details as possible provided for the survivor to be found and assisted. The specific services provided include:
No one, indeed, no child, should be left behind in the journey to positive mental health. Speak Out, Find Help.
Childline Kenya's main goal is to stop child abuse in Kenya. We see and look forward to a world where children's rights and dignity are upheld at all times. For this reason we gladly wake up each morning ready to manage the cases reported through the national chiild helpline 116 service which we co-manage with the Government of Kenya through the Directorate of Children Services. In the past three months we have attended to 48,768 calls. Today we share the case of one of our clients who was violated but through the intervention of the child helpline team she was assisted and is on the journey to recovery as she confidently looks forward to justice being served.
Nature of Case: Defilement
Age: 15 years old
Betty (not her real name) called the Child Helpline service from Western Kenya. She reported a case of incestuous defilement of her daughter. After closing school, Flora (Not her real name) visited her father in Nairobi as was the custom. This time, unfortunately, her father proceeded to defile her multiple times while in his care. However, it was not until she fell ill that Flora got the courage to tell her mother, Betty, about these incidents. The distraught mother then swiftly reported the Child Helpline 116 for assistance. The Helpline team acted quickly and sought the nearest relative to work with in the case. Luckily Flora’s maternal aunt was found. The aunt, with the backing of the police officers and children officers, quickly rescued Flora from the house and took her to a secure place after getting authority from the police and the children’s office to move the child under these circumstances. Flora was also taken to hospital for medical attention. The police officers also arrested Flora’s father and arraigned him in court. The case is ongoing in court and the child was reunited with her mother. The Helpline counsellor meets with Flora twice a month for therapy as the case continues in court. Flora’s future is bright because of the intervention of the helpline team, thanks to the support that Childline Kenya receives from various quarters including our GlobalGiving donors. This support ensures availability of the helpline service 24/7, every day of the year…such a beautiful gift to the children of Kenya, the gift of availability…always.
The year 2021 was successful for Childline Kenya because of the immense support of the GlobalGiving community. Our selection as Project of the Month February 2021 was one of our highlights. We send our big hugs of appreciation your way for believing in us and also for supporting us through this worthwhile journey throughout the year in child protection. In total, we were able to respond to the plight of 22,401 children with different concerns as follows:
1,737 had been abused or violated
467 needed counseling for various mental health concerns
12,731 required specific and general information on child protection and keeping children safe.
Below is a story of one of the children who benefited from our work:
On completing her primary education, Betty* (not her real name), a 15 year old girl, went to live in a different town with a family friend who was in her mid-twenties. This friend exposed Betty to pornographic content which was largely available on her phone and computer. Over time, she went further to open a Facebook account for Betty, and coached her on the kind of sexually explicit photos and videos – semi nudes and in tight dresses – she could post to attract men online, and with it some earnings. Betty lived with the friend for several weeks and actively participated in the "new trade" which she sadly got addicted to. This went on for a long time. One time, Betty innocently spoke about her activities on Facebook to a neighbour who was terrified and decided to raise alarm through Childline Kenya. The case was investigated and Betty promptly rescued and is receiving regular counselling provided by a Childline Kenya therapist. Meanwhile her "friend" was arrested and the case is ongoing in court. Betty is now on the road to recovery despite the fact that the process is slower as she had already gotten addicted to pornographic material and related activity and the cash that came with it. Chilldine is committed to walk this difficult journey with Betty until she is well again to enjoy her childhood.
On Betty's behalf and all children who benefit from our work and on behalf of the team at Childline Kenya, I say thank you very much to our GlobalGiving partners for keeping our work relevant to Shine A Light on Child Abuse in Kenya. We look forward to an even greater year 2022 with your support.
Childline has continued to serve children relentlessly. In July to September 2021, a total of 66,734 cases have been listened to and support provided as necessary. These cases included those presenting various child protection issues including reports of violence against children and abuse; requests for counselling and other psychosocial support; and requests for information on various child protection issues. Out of the over 66,000 cases managed there were a total of 415 child survivors of violence and abuse. One such case is presented as a case study below. We are able to support these children thanks to the immense support we receive through GlobalGiving directly and the donors who choose to support us directly as an organization and through the GlobalGiving platforms. For this support we are forever grateful.
What does the case address/or bring out?
The following case study clearly shows the role of Childline Kenya's partners, and specifically the Kenya Police Service in this instance, in handling cases of affected children, in the best interest of the child, by dealing with underlying issues even when there is inadequate evidence to pursue a case through court.
The case in summary
A four-year-old boy was allegedly slapped by a neighbor after he spit on this neighbor from a balcony as he was passing. The aggrieved mother to the child called the child helpline in fury demanding that the said neghbour be arrested and charged in court for physical assault. For meaningful conversation to take place, the helpline counselor employed the relevant skills to calm the mother down first. An appointment was then agreed for the following day for a detailed discussion of the case after it had been determined that the child was not in any immediate danger.
During the meeting the following day the helpline counselor accompanied the mother and child to the police station to record their statement as best as they could. In the process of telling the story, several inconsistencies were noted and confronted by the police. When asked for any witnesses to the incident, none were identified except the boy, whose narration was not flowing either, based on age and therefore the ability to recall the incident and retell the story. It became very difficult to put together a watertight case. There was no medical report as well to substantiate the claims as the child not been attended to at a medical, and even though it would be very difficult to ascertain the impact of a slap on a medical report unless there is scarring. It was also established that the child’s mother and the accused neighbor had historical conflict that has remained unresolved sparking different reactions. It was not clear whether this was therefore a case of one getting back at the other in relation to the historical conflicts.
It was therefore agreed that the case would not be taken to court, for lack of adequate evidence to support an assault case, but the mother and her neighbor would attend at least three counseling sessions to deal with their friction. Childline recommended to them some partners who also provide psychosocial support to adults. It was also recommended that one of them moves out of the rental units to diffuse the tension. Finally, the child would also go through assessment by the Childline counselor and go through therapy to deal with any resultant trauma from the incident and the subsequent events.
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