This checklist focuses on child trafficking. Parents and children can make use of the guidelines below to help reduce instances of child trafficking in Kenya.
1. Children being aware of strangers.
All parents or guardians must make a decision about when they can start letting their children stay at home alone or go out in public alone. The time comes for all children to be given increased personal responsibility and become more independent. When this occurs it is vitally important that children are made aware of the potential danger of being approached by someone they don’t know who may be trying to lure or force them into a trafficking situation. Having, and sticking to, the plan for the time to be spent alone is crucial. For example, if children are to remain at home alone they must not go out. If they are to go out briefly and get something from a local shop, this must be all that they do. There should be no change to the plan without talking to their parents or guardians. Children should be made aware that if they are approached by someone they don’t know it’s highly likely that the person will want something from them, or want to take them somewhere. They need to know that such people MUST be ignored and to walk away. In case a child becomes lost or is taken, it’s worth having them memorize at least one parent’s mobile phone number and ensuring they know how to ask someone to make a call to try and get help.
2. Going to and from school.
Due to the increasing cost of living in Kenya, more children are walking to school unaccompanied. Whilst school buses are commonly available, they are additional expenses to school fees and many parents need to work long hours over the morning and afternoon periods when children travel to and from schools. Children of a young age walking to and from school are targets for traffickers. When children must walk to school, parents need to work with their children to determine the route to be taken, how long the walk should take, and if any safety measures can be taken. Possible action to be taken – arrange for children from the same school living near each other to walk to and from school together, to create safety in numbers; have someone trusted who will see the children along the way, such as a shopkeeper, keep an eye out for them and make sure they are on schedule; make teachers at the school aware of which children walk; have a plan of action if a child does not arrive at school or home on schedule; talk to the child about what they can do if someone tries to take them. Planning the journey to and from school can prevent children disappearing and being trafficked.
3. Community awareness.
Neighbors, friends, colleagues, parents at a school, and any other groups of people can openly discuss any issues of concern that may be affecting their children. Children themselves can also talk to each other or adults about anything unusual. Whether it’s someone new and suspicious that has been seen a number of times in the local area, or children suddenly want to go somewhere unknown, anything irregular or different should be discussed. Traffickers will keep a low profile, but they have to do some level of planning and make contact with their targets. Any suspicious behavior around schools or in suburban areas that may be a threat to children should be discussed. Anyone that seems out of place can be challenged. Any child that appears to be in trouble should not be ignored.
4. Communicate with children.
Parents and guardians must communicate with their children to determine if they are content with their home environment, going to school, and other aspects of their life. As discussed in the previous labor and sex trafficking checklists, a tactic regularly used by traffickers is the offer of a better existence. It’s important that children have a desire to go to school and come home each day. They should not be tempted by any offer to escape from their home or school. If a child is unhappy about something, a solution should be sought by those who care for the child. Children may believe a trafficker is someone who will help them.