CHILD rights organizations have expressed concern over the evergrowing number of children who go missing.
Even though, there are no official figures of the number of children who disappear, Missing Child Kenya says close to 30 cases of missing children are reported every day.
This group represents the over one million who go missing around the world each year. Even more worrying to the families is living with the nightmares of possibilities of sexual abuse, exploitation, and trafficking of the young ones. At worse, some of the victims are never found alive but dead.
As the world marked international missing children’s day last week, Missing Child Kenya Executive Director Maryanne Muyendo said there is a need to create a database on missing children so as to increase the chances reuniting those lost with their loves.
“It’s very difficult to get accurate missing children numbers. In Kenya, a lot of cases go unreported and therefore the actual numbers we have are not a true representation,” Muyendo says The organization is also concerned over the lack of a harmonized response to protect vulnerable children for the problem.
The situation notwithstanding, Muyendo says reportage of disappearance of children should be a matter of priority for all. “Report either to the police or an organization such as ours. Never wait to report because you think the child will show up soon.
You do not know what the risk the child may be in. Report immediately so that the police can start the search immediately,” she said Compared to rural areas, Muyendo says child abduction cases are rampant in urban areas with slums posting higher figures of kidnappings. She says collaboration with security organs as well as creating awareness will aid the reduction of these ugly occurrences.
“If we have a partnership where everyone brings these cases together, then we could be able to create a national database,” she said According to a 2019 report by the National Crime and Research Centre, Kenya was ranked number 17 out 19 on the list of countries where the rate of kidnapping is the highest.
According to the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, eight million children go missing annually which translates to nearly 22,000 children every day around the world.
The ICMEC says children go missing for many different reasons. According to the US-based NGO, they can be pushed out of their environment due to violence/ abuse, pulled to leave their environment as they are enticed online, or invited to leave by an outsider. Each missing child is unique.
Therefore, teaching children a few basic security tips such as their family names, name of the school or location of their home, an emergency number such as the toll-free child help line 116 and the parent’s number could help avert possible cases of kidnapping. “Education is important in preventing children from going missing.
A child needs to grow confidence in managing risky situations. Teachers are knowledge transfer partners as they spend a lot of time with the child. Parents are the main custodian of the child.” Muyendo states.