JKUAT joins world in celebrating International Missing Children Day

Participants during the commemoration of the International day for missing children at JKUAT, Juja. Photo:Kamau Njoroge

Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), through the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences hosted various institutions and government stakeholders during the commemoration of the International Day for the Missing Children.

The event featured a multi-disciplinary discussion on prevention and response to cases of missing children, aimed at creating awareness as well as empowering communities to safeguard children from going missing.

The key discussions centered around reasons why children go missing, the risks they are exposed to, as well as the prevention measures stakeholders are taking to mitigate the issue of missing children.

Speaking at the event, Dr Athena Morgan from the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children said, “While children go missing every day, the issue is not given a lot of emphasis in Africa, thus putting the missing child under harm as the child could be exposed to dangerous or uncomfortable situations.”

She noted that some of the key factors that contribute to a child going missing include family issues such as abuse or neglect of a child, kidnapping, accidents or natural calamities that may separate a child from their legal guardian as well as running away from cultural practices like Female Genital Mutilation among some communities in Kenya.

Mental health issues as well as peer pressure were also noted as key contributing factors towards teenagers going missing.

The coordination by the various stakeholders including the police, communities and other governmental and non-governmental institutions, once a child goes missing was highlighted as a key factor to the success of recovering lost children.

This is because it ensures that there is combined effort from all possible sources and this can help trace a child faster and reconcile them back to their family.

The police for instance, through the Directorate of Criminal Investigation (DCI) in collaboration with the Directorate of Children’s Services, will use information reported to them by the guardians of the missing child and the public to trace the perpetrators.

The process may also include analysis of digital footprint, where the child had been online before their disappearance.

Amber alerts which are done within the geographical location the child goes missing in may also be done.

The public on the other hand comes in handy when it comes to sharing of images online through the various social media platforms. Prompt reporting of a missing child is however key to the speedy recovery of the child and this can be done using the hotline 116.

According to statistics, 6500 children are reported missing annually in Kenya which is about 18 children per day and the current trends indicate that the numbers are rising. This creates the need to beef up prevention measures to ensure the safety of children in Kenya.

Mark Keya, who is the assistant director of child services in the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection, noted that the government has made various milestones towards child protection.


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These include the revision of the Children Act (2022) that safeguards the rights of children, keeping proper records of missing children, mediation on family issues to ensure children feel safe at home, as well as tracing families of the found children and re-integrating them back to their families.

“On cases where the ministry may not trace the guardians, children may be placed in alternative custody such as children’s homes. Celebration of relevant days such as the International Day of the Missing Children has also helped raised awareness about the issue,” he said.

Naomi Wamaitha, a representative from ICS-SP, noted that there is a need to build a strong community network, where everyone watches each other, as well as create awareness in communities on the protocols of recovering a missing child.

“ICS-SP is also working with various schools to provide positive parenting and social skills to communities so as to empower them. Skills that are key to children safety include the ability to observe their environment, as well as whom to approach in case they are lost,” she said.

She averred that children should also know basic information such as their names, those of their guardian, their home place among others to enable them be easily re-united with their families when found.

Medical Social work has also been established to have a key role in the efforts. This has informed the investment of JKUAT in the training of Medical social workers who can boost such efforts by conducting research on the emerging trends in the topic, to inform government policies.

In his remarks, Dr Wilkins Muhingi who coordinates the course at JKUAT noted that the course is a convergence between Social Work and Medicine.

“It provides students with requisite skills to support other agencies in the reintegration of found children in the society as well as dealing with medical aspects associated with such cases,” he observed.

The event brought together students from medical training schools including JKUAT, Kenya Medical Training College – Karuri Campus and Nairobi Women’s Hospital College, and panelists from various institutions including JKUAT, DCI, ODPP, and KNH.

By Kamau Njoroge

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