Child abuse involves all forms of physical or emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect or negligent treatment or commercial or other exploitation, resulting in actual or potential harm to the child’s health, survival, development or dignity in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power.
Children are very vulnerable beings who need special care and protection from those assigned the responsibility of being in charge of them. The issue of taking good care of children seems to be very simple, clear and straightforward but in reality, it tends to be complicated and a good number of people tasked with taking care of children have not yet understood it.
Child abuse is an issue that has been in existence for a very long period of time. Sadly, some children undergoing child abuse experience it from those who are taking care of them including their own parents, siblings, guardians among others.
Common child abuse practices in the society today include child labor. Child labour involves work that is mental, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to children and that interferes with their schooling, by depriving them of the opportunity to attend school, obliging them to leave school prematurely or requiring them to attempt to combine school attendance with excessively long and heavy work. It is a common practice all across the country where children, are seen out in the fields either looking after animals, fetching water from the river, doing heavy house chores or even some can be in the garden ploughing at the time when other children are in school learning.
Some parents, guardians or any other caregiver tend to take custody of their own children and decide to abandon them. This is also a form of child abuse since all children have the right to be taken good care of. When a child is abandoned, they lack basic needs like food, shelter, and clothing. This, in turn, may lead to deterioration of health of the child.
Kidnapping too falls under child abuse. Cases of children being abducted are very common in Kenya. Such cases occur where children are taken away by either a known or unknown people to a different place from their homes. Most of those practicing this act tend to do it so that they can get money in exchange for the child who has been kidnapped. Whenever this whole process is taking place, children undergo both mental and physical torture since they are not able to defend themselves from the abductors.
Other common forms of child abuse include child prostitution, early or forced marriages, emotional abuse, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), neglect, physical abuse or even sexual abuse. This is why Childline Kenya came in to rescue children from such acts.
Childline Kenya works in Partnership with Government to stop Child Abuse and Provide a Safe Environment for all Children. They offer the only nationwide helpline service dedicated to children that run 24 hours toll-free, and is accessible by dialing 116. The Helpline provides Counseling, Rescue, Safe Shelter, Medical Care and Legal Support. They actively educate the public on Child Safety, working with key government agencies and child protection partners in all the 47 Counties.
Children have the right to be listened to, right to be heard, loved and taken care of. It is about time that the silence on child abuse is broken and people are made aware of the rights of children. All these need support and Childline Kenya is calling upon the public to partner and support the helpline with financial support so as to enable them to achieve their mandate as far as the welfare of children is concerned. When the 116 helpline is sustained, more children are saved from child abuse.