How social media, long school closure spiked missing children cases - Beaking Kenya News

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Sunday, 27 December 2020

How social media, long school closure spiked missing children cases


Going by missing alerts put in the social media and mainstream media outlets since March this year, the Star can report that over 60 children from the age of two to 16 years have gone missing.  

A conversation with most of the parents reveals that some of the children, especially those aged 10 years old and above sneaked out from home without any provocation and no clear reason would be offered.

This comes hot in heals of latest media reports showing a group of 44 teenagers were busted by the police in a birthday cum sex party in Nairobi’s Mountain View area in November.

The boys and girls, whose ages ranged from 11 to 18, were said to have come as far as Kericho and Machakos.

Police reports showed that most of them, in early secondary school classes, had tricked their parents that they were going to get textbooks or revision papers.

The police recovered over 100 empty alcohol bottles in the cupboard of the three-bedroom house.

Reams of used condoms, rolls of bhang and dirty disposable cups with liquor and others with ashes of burnt bhang were also collected at the house.

Untidy beds and couch cushions spread on the floor gave police a clear impression that birthday party quickly turned into sex orgies party.

Further investigation reports also showed that most of the teens got invites on Instagram with links for registration and direction.

Some of them, streamed live the action as it went down during the impugned party on social media. 

In fact, the police said in November that there were “cartels” that were using online platforms to lure unsuspecting teenagers to sex parties in the city.

The DCI announced on Twitter that they were “hunting down members of the cartel and they'll be apprehended to answer for their crimes.”

It also announced that child-protection detectives had rescued three of the seven girls who had been reported missing earlier that month.

Efforts to trace the others were continuing, it said.

Some of the girls, who included form four students, claimed that they had been lured off their homes by unknown people who promised modelling jobs.

Detective, at the time, did not disclose where the girls were found or if any arrests had been made.

According to the DCI, the alleged cartels operated from Nairobi and were using internationally registered telephone numbers.

But psychologists explain that the fact that most of the school-going children have been at home due to the fast-spreading Coronavirus pandemic and hence are bored and emotionally exhausted.

“I strongly suspect this is the reason most of them are escaping from home. They are bored being “caged” at home with their parents and family doing literally the same routines,” Florence Mwanga, a private clinical psychologist practising in Nairobi told the Star.

Gregory Loch, a youth coach based in Nairobi, agrees. He said most of the young people bored at home and find social media as their outlet for connecting with their friends and falling to peer pressure.

“Most of these missing children or young adult alert are not desperate situations. Most of them know where they are, mostly pursuing vain pleasure,” he said.

Loch explained that most of the young people get exhausted by the firm restrained mounted by their parents and so when they get their free space, overindulge.

It boils down to one thing, parenting, he said.


In some other cases, some of the children escaped from home when they had done a mistake and had been confronted for disciplinary action.

For example, Moses Mwangi*, 7, ran from the home in Umoja at 5 pm when his father confronted him for dropping his radio set on the floor, spoiling it.

The father told the Star, that since the closure of schools in March, his son had become increasingly reckless and lazy at home.

“He had become a truant and difficult character, perhaps because of the company he kept,” he said. When Mwangi spoilt his radio set in June, the father confronted the son and threatened to cane him.

The boy ran away and for two months, his family was in a search frenzy, sparing no effort to find him. He only emerged three months later in September.

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