What is it in for Children- Child Protection in Elections By Jennifer Kaberi

Kenya’s population is made up of 54% of children below the age of 18 years. Mtoto News in an effort of ensuring that children are not left out in the political discourse is going to run a series of articles on what is in for children.

We will analyse Political Party manifestos against the United Nations Conventions on the Rights of a Child, The African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child and the Kenyan Constitution 2010.

Political parties are going to start the nomination process in April and over the next few weeks Kenyans have geared themselves to to see posters, hearing loud music and endless TV coverage of the nomination process.

To kick start our series and in line with the principle of Best Interest of the Child, we are going to highlight the importance of safeguarding  and protecting children during the electrol process.

Children in A Political Campaign in Kilome

Elections  may be an adult process but it directly affects children and have a long lasting impact on the lives of children. In 2007/2008, 30% out of the 1,200 people killed in 2007 were children, 100,000 children were displaced, at least 75,000 living in Internally Displaced Persons camps 900 women and girls were victims of sexual violence during the post-election violence and Millions of children were traumatized during the Post Electrol Violence.

A study done by Amulenga Victoria showed that children exposed to hate speech during campaign rallies tended to use the same words on their peers. It went ahead to show that their was strife among children whose parents belong to different parties and in Kenya’s case tribe. The study done in Kenya showed that children from different tribes stopped playing with each other and start holding a political view/stand of their parents.

Research show that children learn through copying what the adults are doing, hence the Psychological effects of being involved in campaign impact the children identity as they learn from the the actions of politicians. In an event of violence most children suffer from Post Traumatic Syndrome Disorder that has long term effects on the child’s development out including their productivity as adults. Elections is characterized by  anxiety with most people not knowing what will happen with releasing of the results, this is seen in the economy, but very few people have studied the election anxiety and children. 2007/2008 was a very difficult period in Kenya’s history, as much most of the children were not born or very young to remember. Their parents who experienced the period project fear and anxiety which further reinforced by negative rhetoric through the media, which has impact on children education and emotions. For instant 2008 and 2013 there was 15.4%  drop in the general performance in the national examinations. This facts are just few of the reasons that child protection should at the center of campaigning and electrol process.

Article 53 (2) of The Kenyan constitution 2010, says that “A child’s best interests are of paramount importance in every matter concerning the child”, which  means in any decision and action, child welfare should put as a priority. The UNCRC emphasizes this in Article 4,  that the state should take all measures to protect children.

We are concerned by the increasing number of reports on children  involvement in campaigns which have resulted to some being in the line of fire during electrol violence, as seen in this media footage.

We therefor urge the IEBC to have guidelines on child protection. We also highly recommend to all political parties to include child protection policy as part of their campaign strategy. A desirable child protection policy for political parties should have the following key aspects

  • We shall all aspirants associated with our party have not been charged with an offence of violating children rights.
  • We shall be careful in our words and actions in the Best Interest of the Child.
  • We shall seek the views of children responsibily
  • We shall ensure all measures have been taken to safeguard children who are in the campaign space.
  • We shall not involve children in distribution of campaign materials or entertainment.
  • We shall put child welfare as part of our political agenda.

We believe politicians and political parties have a responsibility of protecting children. We look forward to see political parties developing child protection policies.

Please feel to let me hear what measures political parties can take to protect children during the electrol process #ChildrenAndPolitics

Jennifer Kaberi is Child Development Specialist with interest in child policy, child rights protection and child advocacy. She can be reached on  jenny.kaberi@gmail.com

Mtoto News is an online on news, information and resources, that aims at making meaning impact on the lives of children by making them visible in political, developmental, cooperate and economic discourse. You can follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Telgram on @MtotoNews. You can Read our online paper mtotonews.com  

Photo Credit

Tonny Omondi- Nation Media Group

Citizen TV, Citizen Extra, Royal Media Group