Kenyans received with relief the news that parents of the twin stolen from Kenyatta Hospital over the weekend were reunited. Finding the child took the efforts of the parents, the community and well-wishers, something vital when a child goes missing.
There are quite a number of cases of missing children in Kenya. According to the 2017 National Crime Research report on kidnapping (PDF), most victims of kidnappings are children and juveniles below 18 years old.
The report further indicated that the most kidnappers are strangers, followed closely by acquaintances of the victims. Also mentioned were family members, who usually engineer the kidnapping process.
Kidnappers consider this category quite vulnerable and easy target.
Keeping your child safe and protected from potential abductors is a priority, but also is knowing what to do when a child is missing.
Here are the steps:
- Report Immediately to a police station
The moment you know a child is missing, report immediately to a police station. At the station, you will be given an OB number for reference. The information will be shared with an investigator with the Criminal Investigations Department, which will then conduct a physical and digital search.
Provide the police with information about the child, including:
- A clear and recent picture,
- Name (including nicknames) of the child
- Age and gender of child
- Where the child lives, goes to school
- Any distinguishing marks such as birthmarks and scars
- Create awareness in your neighbourhood
If the child was last seen in your neighbourhood, spread information around the area so that the community members who may have an idea help you out. The Crime Research Centre report indicates that community plays an important role in addressing kidnapping in the country. They can participate by creating awareness on the missing child, collaborating with the security agencies and rescuing victims among others.
- Turn to the internet
The internet has a number of resources you can use to not only create awareness about the missing child but also find out if the child is featured among the ‘Lost and Found’ children.
The Child Welfare Society of Kenya has a missing children database and a portal for reporting a missing child, which can prove useful to you.
You can also check out Missing Child Kenya, they update their social media with information about missing and lost and found children. It also offers psychosocial support to affected family members.
Protect your children
Teach your child life-saving skills including safety measure they can use to navigate their spaces whether at home or school. Providing an open and safe communication channel between you and your child is vital, as they will be at ease to discuss their fears and concerns.
Ensure that the child knows their name and age, as well as your full names, telephone number and address so that it is easier for them to communicate with you or relevant authorities to help in locating them when they get lost.
Losing a child is one of the difficult things a parent can go through. The process of searching for the child can take an emotional and physical toll on the parent and other family members.