Shine A Light on Child Abuse in Kenya

by Childline Kenya
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Shine A Light on Child Abuse in Kenya
Shine A Light on Child Abuse in Kenya
Shine A Light on Child Abuse in Kenya
Shine A Light on Child Abuse in Kenya
Shine A Light on Child Abuse in Kenya
Shine A Light on Child Abuse in Kenya
Shine A Light on Child Abuse in Kenya
Shine A Light on Child Abuse in Kenya
Shine A Light on Child Abuse in Kenya
Shine A Light on Child Abuse in Kenya
Shine A Light on Child Abuse in Kenya

The joy of making a difference in one child’s life gives us the energy to face another day more confident that it is possible to STOP child abuse. Childline Kenya in its quest to Shine A Light on Child Abuse in Kenya solders on until this dream becomes a reality. In the past three months we have responded to many children some of whom are violated while some are struggling with other relational matters. Lenny is a 15-year-old boy who struggled to find his place in his family. Here is his story.

Lenny called the helpline in Kenya reporting a strained parent/child relationship. He is a grade 9 student in a nearby Secondary school who lives with his parents and his 4 sisters. Lenny had run away from home because he felt that his parents treated him differently from his sisters. He believed this was because he might not be their biological child. Whenever he made a small mistake they would shout at him and beat him up. He said it was unfair because he did not see the same things being done to his sisters. He started building the ideology that he did not belong in that family. He therefore wanted the helpline team to assist him to trace and reunite with his biological parents. This was a very emotional session as Lenny kept breaking down severally and crying uncontrollably. It had been one week since he ran away from home and was staying with friends at a neighbouring town. The Helpline team worked with the relevant authorities and Lenny was brought back home. His family was elated to see him especially because, after a week, they had started losing hope of ever seeing him alive.

We facilitated a session for Lenny and his parents to air out their differences and start sorting out the concerns. Lenny narrated how their behavior made him feel and said that he wanted to belong to a family where he felt loved and appreciated. His parents confirmed that Lenny was indeed their biological son. Their first born child. They showed him documents relating to his birth to confirm that he was indeed their child. Being the first child and an only son the parents wanted to instill discipline in him to be a good role model to his sisters. They wanted to see him more responsible for the same of his future. Their love for him was deep.

We took the opportunity to provide tips to the parents on some of the ways to still meet their discipline and responsibility goal without crushing the person of their child. They apologized for their behavior and together agreed how to handle things better in future.

At the end of February 2021, Lenny confirmed that things had changed for the better at home. His parents also expressed their happiness at the way he had improved in his behavior. Their relationship seemed to be heading in the right direction. It was agreed that both parties will continue being deliberate about building a healthy relationship. They are free to reach out to the Helpline anytime they need support through the process.

The Helpline counsellors remain available 24/7 every day of the year. This is made possible by the great support of our partners including the GlobalGiving community. From the bottom of our hearts we say “Thank You”. You are welcome to keep supporting us whenever you can. One child’s life turned around for the better, makes the whole difference.

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Hi Friend of Childline! 

Childline Kenya is thrilled to announce that we’ve been chosen as GlobalGiving’s Project of the Month for February 2021

Our work to Shine a Light on Child Abuse in Kenya was selected from a pool of more than 5,000 nonprofit projects in 170+ countries. Nearly 3,000 donors come together and make monthly donations to keep the Project of the Month going. See the link to our project at https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/shine-a-light-on-child-abuse-in-kenya/.

This extra support means the world to us—and to the children of Kenya whom we serve. Over the course of the next year, we’ll use these additional funds to increase awareness on child protection and related services, optimize access to the child helpline service and strengthen response to reported cases of violence against children.

We can’t thank you enough for your continued compassion and generosity. 

With gratitude, 

 

 

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The work of Childline Kenya is fully supported by funding partners and philanthropists. Despite a very difficult year in 2020 Childline's operations at the Child Helpline continued despite the reduction of staff members and general operations of the organization. Sadly, with the increase of Gender Based Violence (GBV), and VAC during the COVID-19 times, the toll free number 116 received a marked increase in the number of substantive child abuse and counselling cases received at the Helpline e.g. between January and March 2020 a total of 335 such cases were reported. This number rose to 628 in the period April to June 2020 and rose even higher to 962 and 776 from July to September 2020 and October to December 2020 respectively. Although these trends took an emotional toll on the team at Childline Kenya, we found strength in knowing that because we were available, one more child was assisted. The case below is of one of the beneficiaries who reached out for help through the Helpline and found assistance for herself and her family, thanks to your financial support through GlobalGiving.

The case in Brief

Cynthia called the helpline from Nandi county seeking counselling. She is sixteen years old. She had eloped from home in July 2020 to live with her then boyfriend, who is an adult. According to her, everything was going on well until October 2020 when her “husband” started assaulting her physically. After a while she couldn’t take it anymore. She then borrowed her neighbors phone to report the issue to the helpline while the husband was as work. At the time of reporting, Cynthia wanted to go back to her parents’ home but she was scared of the wrath of her parents and brothers because she knew they were still upset with her for running away from home to get married. The Helpline counselor promised to walk with her through the difficult journey and do everything possible to remove her from the abusive situation she found herself in.

Goals Achieved:

Psychosocial Support for Cynthia- On 18th December 2020 Cynthia went through first aid counselling as part of psychosocial support through the helpline service to help her deal with the stress she was going through and also help her on the path towards positive behaviour change. She also went through a virtual counselling session on 19th December to prepare her for rescue and reintegration back home.

Psycho –education support and Family therapy –On 19th December both Cynthia’s parents and brothers were spoken to at length over the phone to present the case and to get an indication whether they were ready to accommodate Cynthia back to the family. They were then linked to the nearest children’s office for further family therapy session and psychoeducation on parenting. After the session there was a clear indicator that Cynthia had a strained relationship with both her parents and siblings and this also contributed to her running away from home. 

Rescue- Through coordination with the children office in Nandi, Cynthia was rescued on 20th December and handed over to her family. She is doing well. A counselling session appointment was set for 26th December 2020

Involving the police – Cynthia’s parents reported the case to the police on 20th December but the perpetrator went into hiding when he realized that the case has been reported to the authorities. By law, anyone below 18 years cannot consent to marriage or sexual activity. The "husband" knew this and knew he was in deep trouble for taking Cynthia in as his wife despite her age. He is still at large but is being sought by the police.

Outstanding Issues/Concerns:

Since there still seems to be a strain between Cynthia and her family, the Helpline Counselor is visiting their home once every two weeks to gauge how well she is fitting back in and to assist the family deal with any issues arising. Relevant resource persons are also involved as necessary.

We deeply appreciate the support received from our donors through GlobalGiving without which Cynthia and other children like her would not be able to get the relevant assistance from Childline Kenya. We appreciate you deeply.

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Counselor at the Helpline
Counselor at the Helpline
Childline Kenya provides child protection services through ICT innovations. We manage the only national child helpline service available for free by dialing 116 from anywhere in Kenya 24/7. Since the set up of the Child Helpline in Kenya in 2006, the highest reported form of child abuse was child neglect consistently. This narrative has since changed with the onset of COVID-19. In this season, defilement cases have skyrocketed, accounting for at least 63 new cases reported every month! This is alarming! Sadly, these cases are perpetrateed by people within the family and people well known to the children. With the self quarantine arrangements and working from home requirements, some children have found themselves confined in the same space with their "would be" abusers for prolonged periods with no breaks to report their concerns to their teachers or  other adults as would have been the case if they were going to school or to religious institutions.
In response to this concern, there is need to sensitize the children on the available online based reporting platforms including the Helpline 116. As the children participate in online learning they should also be aware that they can use the online platforms to report abuse. In addition, they can raise the red flag with their peers, religious leaders and other trusted adults...including the teachers when they are facilitating e-learning, so that help is sought for them immediately it is required.
With support from Childline's donors and philanthropists we have been able to engage additional counselors to increase the capacity of the helpline to respond to more cases. The increase in couselors has translated to a big increase in reported cases and therefore case resolution for example between January to March 335 cases were handled. This increased to 628 cases in April to June and further increased to 962 between July and September 962.
Childline, with support from state and non-state partners, including the GlobalGiving community, has also begun actively developing messages to promote the Helpline service on social media while also sharing information on various topical issues in child protection. This is meant to provide needed infromation in the public with regard to child protection but most importantly encourage reporting of child protection concerns for resolution.
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Helpline Counselor responding to children's Issues
Helpline Counselor responding to children's Issues

The COVID-19 pandemic has tested humanity in every way possible. The measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus have led to various disruptions in all spheres of life, ultimately affecting individuals, communities and the world at large. In early May 2020, child welfare organizations warned that the COVID-19 lockdown measures will increase cases of child maltreatment. This includes the sexual, physical, and emotional abuse and neglect of any person under 18 years old. 

The first COVID-19 case in Kenya was reported in March 2020. This was followed by measures such as closure of schools and colleges, restrictions of public gatherings including places of worship, curfew that ceased movement between 7:00 p.m. and 4.00 a.m., stringent safety measures on all institutions in the economic and social sectors. There was also a worldwide call for individuals to #stayhome to control the virus.

Childline Kenya, through the child helpline 116, has noted an increase in the child abuse reports since the enforcement of the measures to control the spread of the virus. Child Abuse reports from March to June 2020 have increased by 41% to 531 compared to a period of 4 months (November 2019 to February 2020) before the onset of COVID-19 in Kenya where 376 cases of violence against children were reported. The highest number of reported cases are defilement, child neglect and physical abuse which account for more than 71% of all reported cases. This is alarming!

Clearly the COVID- 19 crisis and resulting containment measures have had a drastic effect on the economic sector. The massive loss of jobs and livelihoods has affected the economic power of individuals to provide basic needs for themselves and their families. This has contributed to the raising cases in child neglect. Though reports of child maintenance and neglect were rampant pre-COVID the pandemic has evidently exacerbated the situation.

The closure of schools has also contributed to the increase in child abuse cases. Children have more time at home. Helpline data reveals that 60% of perpetrators of child abuse are close relations to the child. In Kenya, schools are set to resume in 2021. Children will be spending more time at home with little to no structure in their days and with the breakdown of social structures they are at risk of abuse. Some of the children are now forced to #stayhome with the perpetrators.

Children are the unseen victims of the pandemic. The rights of children are being overlooked as nations turn their attention to fighting the pandemic. Despite the pandemic, children’s rights must stand. Children still have rights. At Childline Kenya, we continue to fight for children’s rights. We work 24/7 through the national child helpline 116 service to offer psychosocial support to children as they deal with the pandemic and the issues that emerge as a result of the pandemic. Through the helpline, Childline provides psychosocial support including counselling, child therapy and family therapy. We work with partners to provide access to medication, safe shelter, legal aid, education support, reunification with families and reintegration. Childline also actively educates the public on child safety, working with key government agencies and child protection partners in all the 47 counties. All this is possible with support from development partners and individuals of goodwill.

We would like to thank our donors for your generous contributions to the work of Childline Kenya. We need each other now more than ever to Shine A Light on Child Abuse. Continue partnering with us to keep a child safe from abuse and leave no child behind in child protection.

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Childline Kenya

Location: Nairobi - Kenya
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Twitter: @childlinekenya
Project Leader:
Martha Sunda
Nairobi, Nairobi Kenya
$65,956 raised of $100,000 goal
 
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