SAFETY FIRST

How to keep your child safe in wake of increased kidnappings, murders

Police say security has been heightened to ensure the cases are reduced.

In Summary

• When in public spaces, make sure that you are familiar with the place and know where to go and who to reach out to in case of an emergency, such as the reception desk at a mall or the guard at the park entrance.

• Never leave children unattended in a vehicle. Children should never hitchhike or approach a car when they don’t know and trust the driver.

Embakasi subcounty police commander Francis Ngugi with a child, who was rescued on June 16, 2021.
Embakasi subcounty police commander Francis Ngugi with a child, who was rescued on June 16, 2021.
Image: GEORGE OWITI

Since the beginning of the year, news of children being abducted, murdered has left parents fearful and heartbroken.

Every other day, a picture is posted of a young son, daughter, cousin or sibling who has disappeared from different estates within Nairobi and its environs.

More disturbing, however, is that the perpetrators of these abductions, torture and murders have also increasingly been targeting defenceless children.

In as much as cases are being recorded, authorities bestowed with these responsibilities from the Child Department services and other related areas have declined to talk to the media saying the issue is sensitive.

But what can we do to ensure the safety of our children?

Stay away from strangers. Explain to your child what makes a person a stranger.

Even someone with a familiar face is a stranger if you do not know him or her well.

When in public spaces, make sure that you are familiar with the place and know where to go and who to reach out to in case of an emergency, such as the reception desk at a mall or the guard at the park entrance.

In most cases, look at any security men around and ask them for any directions or when stranded.

Stay away from anyone who is following you on foot or in a car. Don't get close to them or feel as though you must answer any questions they ask you.

According to Healthlink BC, Run and scream if someone tries to force you to go somewhere with them or tries to push you into a car.

Ask for help when you are lost. If you get lost in a public place, immediately ask someone who works there for help.

For parents, If your child uses school transport, make sure you have the details of the driver and vehicle.

According to the Office of Justice Programs If the child uses public transport, be aware of whether your child is dropped to a certain point or he goes to it on his own.

If this spot is isolated, can you or someone from the household be present when he/she gets on and off the public transport?

You should know whether the public transport drops them at the school door or at a distance. Take the route yourself to understand the vulnerable locations.

Make a list with your children of their neighbourhood boundaries, choosing significant landmarks.

Interact regularly with your neighbours. Tell your children whose homes they are allowed to visit.

Don’t drop your children off alone at malls, movie theatres, video arcades, or parks.

Never leave children unattended in a vehicle. Children should never hitchhike or approach a car when they don’t know and trust the driver.

CHILLING CASES

The latest murders took place when Masten  Wanjala, was arrested on July 14, 2021, for kidnapping, killing 12 innocent children.

Wanjala massacred his victims in the most callous manner, sometimes through sucking blood from their veins before executing them.

Two weeks ago, eight-year-old Shantel Nzembi went missing from her home in Kitengela.

Baby Shantel had gone out to play with other children from their neighbourhood.

A few days later, her body was found dumped at Orata in Noonkopir.

In another case, a suspect Evans Juma Wanjala last Saturday confessed to defiling five young girls and strangling them to death in Moi's Bridge, Uasin Gishu County.

The victims were aged between 10 and 15 years old.

These are just but two cases of how society has turned evil such that you can no longer trust even your neighbour.

According to an NGO that documents missing children- Missing child- January to July 2021 data, 88 children are still missing up to date.

In this data 108 children have been found. The data shows that three children have been found dead while 204 have been reported missing since January.

AUTHORITY SPEAKS

During engage the IG on Monday, Hillary Mutyambai said that security has been heightened to ensure that the cases are reduced.

"...parents are cautioned to take care of their children and also encouraged to educate their children on basic security measures. For any suspicious characters and activities contact police hotlines 112,911 or 999," he said on July 19.

ODM leader Raila Odinga on Monday also called on the police and Judiciary to bring to end cases of senseless murders and disappearances of children and women.

Raila said too many children and women have lost their lives at the hands of people who should otherwise be their protectors.

“Children are being plucked from their playgrounds, picked on the way to or from school and places of worship and from the balconies and doorsteps of their parents’ houses and slaughtered by adults,” Raila said.

“Girls and women are being killed in cold blood by supposed lovers, husbands and even parents. It has already gone on too long and must now be arrested.”

He described the happenings as unacceptable.

On Friday, UNICEF-Kenya representative Maniza Zaman said the surging cases of kidnapping and murder of children need urgent attention.

“We need to redouble our efforts to ensure that children are protected wherever they are – at home, in schools, and in public spaces," Zaman said.