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  • Writer's pictureTerry Gobanga


Greetings Winning Warrior.

Last week we captured the talk we had with Maryana Munyendo Founder and C.E.O of Missing Child Kenya during our Facebook Live on our page, concerning our children’s safety. This week we promised a continuation of the same topic as we look into ONLINE safety for our children.

Online safety is becoming a great concern for many adults as we seem to be playing catch up game with our youth since they are ahead of us. Online world is so dynamic. Who would have known a time would come that “my space” would no longer be a thing any more but instead we are dealing with TikTok, Likey and so many others. All the same we must agree that it is not all bad in the online platform, we have learnt a lot and our children too from this platform. The same online platform has enabled communication to be much easier regardless of the distance with friends and relatives and the skills acquired cannot be assumed.

The big question therefore would be.

1. How do we protect our children over something we do not have control of?

2. What is good and what is bad in the online world?

3. How do we still give our children freedom to learn by themselves, explore, without creating fear, allowing them to grow because children are creators?

Maryana continued to say, it would be of utmost importance not to put conversations of safety in different silos but instead, it would be of great benefit to bridge gap and have a flow how online or offline conversations need to be governed or directed in a certain way, taking in safety measures in account regardless of the platform. For example, the way we make friends on a day to day basis is the same way we should make friends online. Same rules should apply. The way we check on our children’s friends offline, is the same way we should online. From wanting to know where they leave to wanting to meet their parents etc.

We also need to observe some etiquette when it comes to our gadgets. Starting from the amount of time we have them in our hands because it will be the same with our children. We need to have family time, away from gadgets.

Parents also need to improve their knowledge on online gadgets since a parent can take away a child’s phone not knowing the game consoles still have a way of communication.

In our talk we say how communication is important with our children since there has been a lot of online abuse happening not only by adults to children but peer to peer as well. So, having a sit down with your child, talking about online abuse is very key and this should happen frequently. As parents we should remember to also ask if our own children are the abusers of their friends because children easily pick bad habits either from the parents or from what they have been watching.

Spying on our children will not bare much fruit because they can easily outsmart us, and we are not with them 24/7. A better approach would be to have a talk with them about the online world that is age appropriate. Then, let them know the kind of measures you have put in place to ensure their safety in terms of what they can post and the sites they can go. Also taking them on the importance of keeping their gadgets away for something else that will equally build and challenge them in their line of interest.

Let’s not forget that as parents we can read all sorts of books but children are different and children are beautiful and so we need to allow them to grow into their own person, the best version of them and this will be easier with good communication.

Privacy concerns are important and following guidelines in the site one is visiting. For example if a service provider states the age one should join the platform to be 18 and apparent opens for his or her child using their email address the same platform, one should know if something should happen that calls for legal action to be taken, it will be impossible since the terms were already violated.

SMART as a name and an acronym has helped many families in matters safety for children.

1. S stands for safety

2. M stands for meeting. When a child meets a friend online and the friend asks to meet up, grooming begins, and so parents need to remind their children how it works offline is how it should work online. Ensure as a parent you are the last check off.

3. A stands for accepting. We should teach our children the value of vetting people and things before accepting them.

4. R stands for reliability of information either received by the child or sent by the child. Therefore, teaching our children how to verify information and even after it is verified not everything has to be forwarded to all. Teaching pour children that online just like offline demands good citizens to get good friendships.

5. T stands for Trust, where they know they can trust you as a parent when they tell you the truth, no matter how ugly the truth maybe.

Social psycho support is coming online and has rolled out in different parts of the world. So, make it comfortable enough for our kids to know who they can talk to someone from which sites. Giving a broad angle on who our children can talk to can help them instead of narrowing their choice to only you as a parent.

Maryana gave us guidelines to follow when a child goes missing in Kenya. The most important things being TIME, FACTS and an IMAGE. So a parent or guardian should go to the nearest police station immediately and report. Once the report is done, you will be given an OB number. Then circulating an image of the missing child is key but not more than three different images so that the public is not confused since too many photos can bring out a child looking differently and thus confusing the public. If a child is special need weigh whether to inform the public since this information can cause more harm than good given the type of way the child went missing. Many times, parents panic and begin the search on their own and after many hours they remember to go to the police station.

Once the report is done at the police station, they do not have alert that goes to all police stations and that is where missing child comes in. They make a poster free of charge with clear, precise details of the child complete with the image of the missing child. This is circulated on their online platform to their different networks who then circulate further and so the news of the missing child is received by more people and circulated far and wide which is what every parent wants for many people to be on the lookout for their missing child. When a child is found, there are different circumstances that made the child to go missing and so this has to be looked into as well.

Missing child Kenya is very active on social media and are accessible to the community to give their services. They also give educational program and training programs, they do safety audits so that they can be able to put in the right measure. The toll-free number to call in Kenya incase a child goes missing is 0800 22 33 44 and for now it’s not 24 hours as they work on this.

Maryana is an author of a book called “HIGH FIVE” a first in a series called the safety series. It based on five-star learning model that is parent, teacher, another child, caregiver and themselves. This books targets ages 2 to 6. It is a fantastic read along that helps parents and their children. More about the book can be found on their Facebook page Missing Child Kenya.

We thank Maryana for being our guest and for partnering with Kara to provide safety for our children in every way possible.

To you our reader, see you next week for another Warrior Wednesday

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