DETERMINANTS AND PREVALENCE OF VIOLENCE AGAINST CHILDREN IN LOW INCOME URBAN HOUSEHOLDS IN ELDORET, KENYA

ABSTRACT
This study assessed the determinants and prevalence of violence against children in low income urban households in Eldoret, Kenya. Violence against children and the exploitation of children are global social, economic, human rights and public health issues, with significant negative health and social impacts. Even though the consequences of violence against children may vary according to its nature and severity, the short-term and long-term repercussions are often grave and damaging. Specific objectives of the study were: to examine the proportion of children who experienced different forms of violence in the study area; to identify perpetrators of different forms of violence against children and classify the forms of violence; to explore the social setting of occurrence of each form of violence; and to assess individual, household and community level factors that contribute to violence against children in the study area. Social Learning Theory has been used to explain the study findings. Survey research design was adopted for the study. In this study, data was collected using an interview schedule, Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) and expert interviews. The interview schedule was used to collect data from children of ages between five and seventeen years. A total of 246 households were sampled using purposive sampling also known as deliberate or judgmental sampling of Langas estate and systematic sampling procedure households in Langas. Data for the FGDs were drawn from the parents and guardians of the children. Data was also collected through expert interviews conducted on three state and non- state officials involved with children welfare in Eldoret. This study found the existence of violence against children from within and without the household. Most of the violence against children happened in the last one week prior to data collection, an indication that violence against children is a current and on-going phenomenon. It is recommended that absolute prohibition of violence against children and other ill-treatments need to be robustly defended and measures must urgently be put in place at the national and local levels to prevent occurrence of child violence and also to handle cases of violence against children.

CHAPTER ONE
INTRODUCTION
Background to the study
This study focused on the determinants and prevalence of violence against children in low income urban households in Eldoret, Kenya. Violence against children and the exploitation of children are global social, economic, human rights and public health issue, with significant negative health and social impacts (United Nations Children‟s Fund- UNICEF-2012). Rights of the child have been ignored and are no longer looked at as an important tool in the positive growth of the children (UNICEF, 2005). Studies have addressed different aspects of violence against children, however, this study addressed its determinants and prevalence. United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of the Child outlines that governments shall take appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect a child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse (UN, 2009). Unfortunately, children in urban areas are subjected to all these forms of violence leaving us with the question of why this is the case.

UN Convention defines a 'child' as a person below the age of 18, unless the laws of a particular country set the legal age for adulthood younger. The Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the monitoring body for the Convention, has encouraged States to review the age of majority if it is set below 18 and to increase the level of protection for all children under 18.

Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and UNICEF reports that children can experience violence in any of the settings in which they spend their childhood: in their homes and families, schools, care and justice systems, workplaces and communities (IPU & UNICEF, 2007). It states that exposure to violence in one setting may be compounded by violence in another. Children in such situations as forced or bonded labour, prostitution, pornography and trafficking are especially vulnerable.

IPU and UNICEF report that as many as 80 to 98 per cent of children globally suffer physical punishment in their homes, with a third or more experiencing severe physical punishment resulting from the use of implements, according to studies from countries in all regions of the world. In over 100 countries, children still suffer the threat or reality of corporal punishment with canes, belts or other implements in schools. In at least 30 countries, sentences of whipping or caning are still being imposed on children in penal systems. Other forms of abuse include forced labour, sexual victimization during their childhood, including significant numbers of girls married at much younger ages and undergoing female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C).

The full range and scale of all forms of violence against children are only now becoming visible, as is the evidence of the harm it does (Pinheiro, 2006; World Health Organization 2006a). Research has shown that up to 80 to 98 per cent of children globally suffer physical punishment, with a third or more experiencing severe physical punishment resulting from use of implements (UN, 2006). Further to this, global school – based health survey found that between 20 and 65 percent of school–aged children reported having been verbally or physically bullied (WHO, 2005). World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 150 million girls and 73 million boys under 18 years experienced forced sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual violence (WHO, 2004). International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates indicate that in 2004 alone, 218 million children were involved in child labour of which 126 million were in hazardous work (ILO, 2006).

According to the World Organisation against Torture (Organisation Mondiale Contre la Torture - OMCT), gender-based violence and violence against children are serious and persistent issues in Kenya. In Kenya the level of violence against children has reached very high levels, in particular sexual violence (OMCT, 2009). It found out that women and children were most likely to suffer abuse from parents and husbands and that most prevalent form of abuse is usually a combination of physical assault followed by emotional stress, sexual violence and neglect, both financially and otherwise.

In a study conducted in Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda by African Child Policy Forum (ACPF), in terms of prevalence of physical abuse, beating emerges as the most frequent form of violence, while giving hot or bitter drinks or food is the least common in the three countries (AFCP, 2011). Other forms include beating, hitting or punching, being shouted or glared at, sexual abuse (verbal where girls are spoken to in a sexual manner and indecent sexual touching), rape, prostitution by another person and child domestic workers.

As much as governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) advocate for cooperation in the elimination of violence against children, many people tend to forget that Children in Especially Difficult Circumstances (CEDC) also need to be part of the study. Many children end up in especially difficult circumstances as a result of poverty, family breakdowns, changing lifestyles, civil strife, disability and disease (Republic of Kenya, 1992). Not only are children in especially difficult circumstances forgotten, but those who are violated in home and family settings are too. This only indicates that much data is not available on all groups of children who face violence. This study evaluated the determinants and prevalence of violence against children and addresses the strategies to reduce child exposure to violence by studying all the groups of children without any discrimination.

Poverty is a multidimensional phenomenon and is best exemplified in urban areas where a high proportion of the country‟s urban poor live in unplanned informal settlements located in the urban centres (Oxfam, 2009). It states that not only is urban poverty characterized by inadequate income but also by inadequate asset base, shelter and provision of public infrastructure as well as inadequate access to services such as health care, schools, vocational training, and protection of poorer groups‟ rights. Compounding this are limited or non- existent social safety nets, voicelessness, and powerlessness within political systems, judicial institutions and bureaucratic structures.

According to Oxfam, most slum dwellers feel at risk from crime and violence in their settlements, and this sense of insecurity is exacerbated by insecurity of tenure and the threat of eviction under which many of the urban poor live. Unemployment amongst the youth is held to be one of the key factors behind the increasing levels of insecurity and violence in the informal settlements, the post-election violence of early 2008 being one manifestation of the latter. Research has shown that so many cases of violence go unreported because the children and even adults cannot find a place that is safe and trusted to run to. According to IPU & UNICEF (2007), the persistent social and legal acceptance of some forms of violence against children, too often leaves such violence unnoticed and unreported. Much violence against children goes unreported, whether the child victims are at home, in schools or other institutions, or on the street.

Eldoret being an urban centre has a population that is growing rapidly with most of them being women and children. The male to female ratio is stated to be 100:103 and the number of children between the age cohorts of 5-17 is 102,540 (Republic of Kenya, 2008). According to the Republic of Kenya (2005), the fertility rate in the study area is 7 children per woman. It further indicates that 19.5% of the children need special protection as they are vulnerable to poverty especially the orphans and children in difficult circumstances. Eldoret municipality, other than the children‟s department, has a couple of organizations (for example the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital -MTRH- run Sally Test Centre based at the hospital, Rescue Centre based in Kamukunji, and Muli Children‟s Home based in Pioneer) that are registered to deal with the issue of child violence, but unfortunately they are not able to fully execute their mandate due to many reasons for example lack of funding to sustain them and hostility from communities as well as lack of trained personnel to help them deal with cases of violence. They are not able to reach most children experiencing abuse. This means that none of these organizations has made its presence known and neither is what they are currently doing to deal with this problem visible on the ground.

There are many cases of violence against children that need to be studied to get information that will help policy makers come up with ways of eliminating the various forms of violence. Being a major urban centre in Kenya, it is in Eldoret that effects of violence against children will be most felt considering the area experienced post-election violence (PEV) in early 2008. The more densely populated residence of Langas was selected as the study area because of high urbanization rate due to its close proximity to Eldoret town (Republic of Kenya, 2008). In addition, there exist some pockets of poverty in the highly populated areas of Langas where urbanization has led to emergence of slums.

Statement of the Problem
Even though consequences of violence against children may vary according to its nature and severity, short-term and long-term repercussions are often grave and damaging. Repercussions of violence against children include but are not limited to: life-long social, emotional, and cognitive impairment, health risk behaviours, low academic performance, and high school-dropout rates, sexually transmitted diseases and teenage pregnancies. Explosion in population due to high in-migration in search for employment has led to increased informal settlements resulting in high rates of violence against children in Eldoret. One of the major constraints facing policy makers and administrators in their efforts to eliminate violence against children is the lack of accurate information on the extent, determinants and prevalence of different forms of violence that include sexual abuse and child labour. In particular, little data is available about the violence children face in low income households in urban settings and the perpetrators of such violence. This is the gap that this study addresses.

Objectives of the Study
Broad Objective
Broad objective of the study was to establish the determinants and prevalence of violence against children in low income urban households in Eldoret, Kenya.

Specific Objectives
i. To examine the proportion of children who experienced different forms of violence in the study area.

ii. To identify perpetrators of different forms of violence against children and classify the forms of violence.

iii. To explore the social setting of occurrence of each form of violence.

iv. To assess individual, household and community level factors that contribute to violence against children in the study area.

Research Questions
The study was guided by the following research questions:

i. What is the proportion of children in the study area who have been subjected to different forms of violence?

ii. Who are perpetrators of different forms of violence against children and what are the forms of violence?

iii. In which social setting of occurrence is each form of violence experienced?

iv. What individual, household and community level factors contribute to violence against children in the study area?

Justification of the Study
First, violence against children according to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) is not justifiable under any circumstance and is against the basic rights of the child. Nevertheless cases of violence against children have been on the increase in urban areas in Kenya. Eldoret has been selected as the area of study because it is acclaimed to be one of the fastest growing urban centres in the country. Eldoret has witnessed an explosion in population as a result of high in-migration in search for employment opportunities. This has led to increased informal settlements resulting to high rates of violence against children.

Second, United Nations in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UN, 2009) proclaimed that childhood is entitled to special care and assistance so that it can fully assume its responsibilities within the community. This declaration has been violated because there are so many unreported cases of violence against children in Eldoret Municipality. The fight against violence meted on children would only be won if we know the exact magnitude of the problem and identify the underlying factors that are associated with it.

This study was appropriate since it examined child exposure to violence in different settings: the family, their neighbourhoods, and school environment. Consequently, the findings derived were important since reduction of violence against children would not only restore their dignity but increase their school attendance, improve their academic performance, improve their well-being and promote gender equity in education. For a community to develop, children, who are significant members of any given society need to be nurtured in a good way. According to Government of Kenya (2007), practical steps to eliminate violence against children can be linked to achieving Kenya‟s vision 2030 on the social pillar and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger; achieving universal primary education; promoting gender equality and empowering women; and reducing child mortality.

Scope and Limitations of the Study
This study had its sample group limited to children between the age of five and seventeen years from selected low income households in Eldoret Municipality. This study targeted children because they are a group that is most vulnerable to all forms of violence and therefore need maximum protection and assistance from the whole society. This group was picked from the household because it was easier to come up with a sample that represents different socio-economic backgrounds at that level.

Some limitations were encountered in this study. The researcher and assistant had difficulties in gaining access to the children as permission from the significant adults was a prerequisite. Permission was therefore sought from the relevant authorities and household heads. This made data collection a time consuming exercise. Accessing relevant households was equally difficult in an environment with poor infrastructure characterized by poor planning and lack

of designated roads. The situation was made cumbersome by the fact that the study period coincided with the rainy season.

Research method adopted by this study was very tiring and time consuming for the researcher and assistant, but rarely used up much of respondents time. Interviews could be kept quite short or carried out while the respondents engaged in other activities like play or private study. While it was possible to interview younger children during a school day and therefore conduct the research within the home, it was more difficult to get the older school children whose school day was longer. Older children spend most of the time in class and needed specific time frames to access for example during breaks. To overcome this, ample time was given to the respondents so as to get relevant information for this study.

Children who faced one form of violence or the other were not free to give information on it because the psychological or physical torture they went through was traumatizing and made them live in fear of all people. Some of the respondents were not willing to discuss the forms of violence they had gone through especially in the presence of the adults whom they are under their care and might have contributed to or participated in the abuse or connived to hide the abuse because it carried the risk of further violence. There was also difficulty for some children to express themselves or even identify that they had undergone violence. Though the intentions of the study were made clear to them, they were still not in a position to give the required information to the researcher. The researcher created a good rapport with the respondents.

Finally, not all households had an equal number of children therefore the researcher had to take time grouping the children in the sampled households into different age categories. Age categories were 5-7, 8-10, 11-13, and 14-17 and from each the researcher then picked one child who was used in order to come up with relevant data and this was time consuming.

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Item Type: Kenyan Material  |  Attribute: 95 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
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