Violence prevalent in children under five years, report says

Thursday, April 1st, 2021 00:00 |
Children show injuries from physical abuse. This form of violence against children thrives in the country after neglect and defilement according to The Children Protection Report 2016-2019. Photo/COURTESY

Harriet James @harriet86jim

Violence against children (VAC) was more prevalent among children under the age of five years with four in every 10 of them affected, a new report by the Department of Children’s Service says. 

The Child Protection Report 2016-2019, released yesterday, says 18.9 per cent of girls and 20.2 per cent of boys faced violence in the three years under review. 

Neglect is cited as the leading form of VAC, more prominent against boys at 21.6 per cent vs 19.9 per cent in girls, and incest is more prominent against girls at 22.0 per cent compared to 10.8 per cent in boys. 

Other cases include, physical abuse, 13.0 per cent against girls and 12.7 per cent against boys; emotional abuses, 11.9 per cent against girls and 10.5 per cent against boys; sexual assault, 11.7 per cent against girls and 5.2 per cent against boys. 

For all age groups, neglect is the leading form of VAC at 91.2 per cent, followed by defilement at 2.8 per cent,  Physical abuse/violence (2.5 per cent), emotional abuse 1.2 per cent and child pregnancy at 0.9 per cent.

The home and family setting was the most prevalent place where VAC occurred at 94.5 per cent.

A third of the cases (30 per cent) was categorised as high risk, requiring immediate intervention and an additional 46.6 per cent were categorised as medium risk. 

Nairobi reported the highest cases of  VAC for the three years at nine per cent, with Kilifi and Kiambu second highest (5.4 per cent each) followed by Nakuru (4.2 per cent) and Bungoma (3.9 per cent).

Counties that reported lowest levels of VAC cases are Wajir (0.3 per cent), Tana River and Mandera (0.4 per cent), Marsabit (0.5 per cent) and Isiolo (0.7 per cent) respectively. 

According to the report, sexual violence cases represented 3.4 per cent of all cases reported for the last three years with girls representing 90.7 per cent of victims. 

“Defilement, child pregnancy, child marriage and sexual exploitation and abuse were the most prevalent forms of sexual violence among girls.

Defilement, sodomy and sexual assault were the main cases that affected boys, with 2.6 per cent of all cases reported was above 18 years,” read the report.

Apart from neglect, physical abuse and sodomy, all other cases are reported to be more prevalent among girls.

Additionally, seven in every 10 defilement cases involved girls aged between 10 and 17 years. 

When it comes to retrogressive cultural practices Samburu, Baringo, Kajiado, Trans Nzoia and Kakamega had the highest levels of retrogressive cultural practices at 15.7 per cent, 5.8 per cent, 5.6 per cent, 5.3 per cent and 5.2 per cent respectively.

Helpline calls

The report indicates that of all cases received at the 116 helplline, 55.3 per cent were in regard to boys, and 48.6 per cent were in regard to children aged under 10 years old. 

“Neglect, orphaned and vulnerable children, child affected by HIV/Aids, abandoned, physical abuse and physical abuse/violence cases constituted 30.5 per cent, 11,5 per cent, 10.6 per cent, 8.1 per cent and 6.5 per cent respectively,” the report elaborates. 

In regards to national caseloads, children’s parents reported 80 per cent of cases, with mothers and fathers at 64.0 per cent and 16.0 per cent respectively.

Against this background, the report recommends systematic rebuilding of cultural and family support systems to provide a buffer to shocks in families.

It also calls for creation of programmes that offer support to parents and families to create environments conducive for safe upbringing of children in partnership with all child protection partners, as well as setting up of community-led and centred child protection to enhance case identification, reporting and management through a government-community partnership. 

“The Department of Children Services shall develop tools for community reporting and follow-up while safeguarding confidentiality and safety within the community reporters.

There will be a paradigm shift in child protection especially in areas that have been historically marginalised,” said the report.

It also calls for a shift in child protection in historically marginalised areas and an expandsion and systemic engenderment of the process. 

“All processes and institutions involved in child protection should develop a gender lenses for child protection programming.

A gender sensitive approach towards child protection shall produce better results in the cumulative efforts by all stakeholders,” it added.

The children services also released a guidline in case manegement in bid to standardise procedures and service delivery in child protection in the country.

“The overall objective is to ensure smooth coordination, flow of resources and application of expertise in ensuring  child’s needs or challenges are addressed holistically, appropriately and on time to restore the child’s well-being,” says the report. 

Among the guiding principles are placing the child’s interest first, ensuring no harm, non discrimination and confidentiality and ethical and professionalism in serving children.

The guidelines come against a backdrop of observed gaps and challenges in handling children’s cases. 

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