As Kenyans join the world in marking the Day of the African Child, the Cabinet Secretary for Labour and Social Protection (CS), Simon Chelugui has sounded stern warning to those using social media to exploit innocence of children.
Chelugui noted that there is an increase in cybercrime and use of other technology to take advantage of children currently at home due to the prolonged closure of schools due to Covid-19.
He warned that those who will be found having involved in exploiting the young ones will have themselves to blame, noting that the law will be applied to the letter.
The CS also called on the authorities dealing with cybercrime to investigate the matter and ensure that cybercrime Act is enforced to the letter, noting that the government will not allow anybody to use technology to exploit young children.
“There are unscrupulous Kenyans who are taking nude pictures of children and sharing them online, we will not allow such people to take advantage of the forums and telecommunication gadgets to hurt , misuse or abuse the vulnerable children,” he cautioned.
The CS who was speaking on Tuesday during the commemoration of the Day of the African Child at the Ministry of Labour Headquarters at NSSF Building said it is improper for some people to involve youngsters in anti-social and immoral interactions during this time when they were being left alone at home by their parents.
Regarding street children, the Chelugui said the government has embarked on rescuing street children from the streets with an intention of integrating them into the society and urged parents and care givers whose children have been undergoing rehabilitation to foster love towards them.
Chelugui said the ministry is giving the children mentorship and psychosocial support to enable them become responsible citizens of the society.
“The government has passed various laws to safeguard and protect the rights of the children. These laws are enforced by the Judiciary to deter and protect the rights of the child from cases such as pregnancies, defilement, female genital mutilation and child labour among others,” he added.
He at the same time, noted that the government established court users committees so that they could review the progress done and also ensure that the children receive justice as per the children’s rights.
The CS said the government is also sensitizing the entire leadership of the country through elected leaders, ‘Nyumba Kumi’, village elders and Chiefs to ensure that children’s rights are not violated from the national to the grass root level.
“We want the welfare and child rights discussions to be addressed in churches, mosques and by chiefs in baraza,” he stressed and encouraged police and prison officers to engage children under their custody in social issues, saying it will enable the children to open up and get assistance.
He said the 2019 Kenya Housing and Population Census revealed that the population of children and young person’s 0-18 years was 22,855, 913 accounting for 48.1 percent of the country’s population, a need he says calls for a special attention in national planning.
Chelugui further noted that over the years, Kenya has witnessed growth in facilities catering for the welfare of children which are managed by the ministry of labour and other agencies. The ministry has five child rescue centres, 14 children remand homes, nine children rehabilitation schools and two reception centres for children, probation hostels, borstal institutions, charitable children’s home and children protection units.
He said the country has made great strides in ensuring that children access child-friendly justice even though there are challenges that frustrate efforts towards envisioned justice.
The CS also announced that a law to protect children from online crime is in the pipeline and added that the government will continue to boost investments in the children sector through adequate allocation of resources, fast tracking the finalization of the Children Bill 2020.
“We shall continue to promote the global shift from institutional care for children to strengthening families and communities to take care of their children and improve the access of children to child-friendly justice in our country,” he said.
In his remarks, the Principal Secretary Social Protection Nelson Marwa said the government has set aside Sh.10 billion to cushion and manage Covid-19 pandemic saying that beneficiaries of the fund will include vulnerable children and their families from the informal settlements, persons with disabilities, house helps and casual labourers who have lost jobs due to layoffs by employers due to the economic effects of Covid-19.
Present at the event were the Child Fund Country Director, Chege Ngugi and the Chairperson of the National Council of Children Services, Dr. Joyce Ngugi among others.
By Bernadette Khaduli