Stop the escalating violence against children
What you need to know:
We need to sensitise the public on child protection and continue to strengthen community structures.
Immediate family members are the biggest threat to children and abuse them right in their own homes.
If you can improve the lives and futures of children, then you can transform the world for the better.
A society that cannot protect its children has no future, and rightly so, since children are the future.
I would like to shine a light on the recent increase in child abuse cases manifested in sexual abuse, child neglect, child battering and denial of physical and emotional needs, among other forms of assault.
In January, media attention focused on a 14-year-old Standard Seven girl who was gang-raped, doused with acid and killed in her home in Eastleigh, Nairobi. This brutal, tragic and shocking story was not an isolated event.
SHOCK AND OUTRAGE
A month ago, we heard of a heinous act on an 11-year-old who, despite being a child, was subjected to laborious work as a herdsboy and dipped in a sufuria full of boiling water by his neighbour for allegedly stealing maize flour in Marsabit.
The boy would be found unconscious in a shrub by his family two days later. His hands will have to be amputated.
Last week, in Makueni, a Standard Six pupil at Mikuyuni Primary School is reported to have died after he was allegedly beaten by a teacher.
These cases are just the tip of the iceberg on violence against children. And they should provoke our deepest shock and outrage. We must not tolerate and consider crimes as normal.
A recent report by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics indicated that the sluggish justice system is partly to blame for the high incidence of violence against children despite tough laws that have been enacted to protect children.
But it also revealed that immediate family members are the biggest threat to children and abuse them right in their own homes. What happens to our children when the protector turns predator; when statistics show that violence against, and abuse of, children is by people close to them? That children are being attacked in supposedly safe places. In school. At home.
And why are we not outraged?
This is the 30th year of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which declares: “Mankind owes to the child the best it has to offer.” But while we have achieved a lot for the Kenyan child, we are still a long way from eliminating violence against children.
I have always believed that, if you can improve the lives and futures of children, then you can transform the world for the better. Today’s children will one day be making the decisions that shape the world: In their families, in their communities, in their workplaces, in government and across the international community.
We need to sensitise the public on child protection and continue to strengthen community structures such as Area Advisory Councils, Children’s Clubs and the School Board of Management — as these focal points play a key role in the identification and referral of children in need of protection services.
Violence against children should no longer be tolerated — and it can only be stopped by the collective efforts of ordinary citizens, policymakers, governments and international stakeholders.
Ms Mutua is the director, programme development and quality, at Save the Children.