FOUND SAFE AND REUNITED WITH FAMILY: Understanding the Privacy Needs of Missing Children

Media stories about missing children are as heart wrenching, intriguing as they are common. As a community, we form our own opinions of the child who is absent by the details that the media shares with the public.

But often these very same details used to find a missing child are in direct conflict with the child’s privacy rights while they are away and when they return.

So how do we decide what to share?

A child only loses their right to privacy when they go missing and their whereabouts are unknown. At this moment it is logical to reveal their identity so that the public may quickly identify the child being searched for.

Once they are found, they regain their right to privacy.

This is the reason why at Missing Child Kenya, our posters do not reveal the details of where they are found. The rights and interests of missing children need to be protected at all times until their status / fate has been confirmed.

This brings a lot of questions from the members of the public who helped share this alert. And one valid question we keep on receiving is; “why don’t you share the reasons so that we can learn how to protect our children?”

We do not share these details because:

  1. The families need some privacy to heal together from the trauma, and we cannot measure how long it takes for one to heal from an experience.
  2. In some of these cases, sharing the information on details as to how they were found may endanger the child once more or put them at risk.
  3. The child may be undergoing medical treatment/attention from any harm they suffered in the period of their absence and need the privacy to get medical attention and recover.
  4. Making the recovery experience subjective (entirely recounting actual details of the case while revealing the identity of the child) may have an impact on the child identity in future. No one wants to be known as the child who went missing in certain circumstances.
  5. Not everybody online is an exemplary and compassionate citizen, some children and families end up being cyber bullied or trolled by insensitive or abusive /derogatory statements when they access personal case information about the missing/recovered children. We strive to protect families from cyber bullying.

There are the Kenyan Laws that guide us on data collection and dissemination for children. By adhering to these laws we observe our duty through the principle of the best interests of the child.

The Media Council of Kenya code of conduct further holds us responsible for protection of children’s rights in reporting.

How then do we ensure that we still share information about safety to parents without victimizing the survivors in our case files?

Through our reports, we identify and present areas of concern on child safety based on observation of trends. The public is able to learn the risks,challenges and tips on child protection through insights on this reports. Links to our annual reports are listed below, they are also downloadable.

We share content (videos, blog posts, posters and tips) that describe situations without necessarily identifying particular children as having experienced them. Visit our blog link on our website

Missing Child Kenya depends a lot on the social good of individuals across Kenya. When you share a missing child alert, you are making your much valued individual contribution to reuniting a missing child with their family. With your help we continue to grow and make our community outreach efforts more sustainable.

7 thoughts on “FOUND SAFE AND REUNITED WITH FAMILY: Understanding the Privacy Needs of Missing Children

  1. Missingchildke is really doing a fantastic job in helping trace the missing children. This information is very educative.
    We are forever grateful to the CEO- Maryanne for her tireless efforts in keeping the alerts moving and her willingness to be called at very odd times of the day and night. May the Lord bless her and bless missingchildke.

  2. Spot on. Very valuable information. We went through the trauma last year and we’re yet to fully recovèr. The Lord has been faithful. Regards.

  3. Hi. I have gone through your blog and I didn’t see any article insightful and comprehensive enough on these:

    1. How do most children who have been reported missing go missing? Or what are some of the circumstances that lead them to go missing? This can help parents/guardians become more aware of and adjust the surroundings they let their children operate in. From the cases you have handled, you have obviously seen the trends and can give general not specific cases.

    2. What are the conditions that the children who are finally rescued found in and how should parents/guardians deal with those conditions, especially if found alive? It can be very traumatic and lead to over protection which may not be healthy for the child or the parent.

    3. What can parents/guardians do to reduce instances of children going missing? ( I wanted to say being kidnapped then I figured some kids run away or wander off)

    4. What safety skills can we equip our children with to reduce chances of being kidnapped..not just in malls but neighbourhoods, homes, schools, parks, churches and other public places etc. I liked the piece on safely labelling children’s school items. Now, address other areas like those I have identified there.

    5. When a child goes missing, what are the 1-2-3 steps to follow to increase the chances of finding them?

    These and other useful information would be helpful to parents/guardians in safeguarding their children. Make such an article widely available through, say, an article on popular newspapers, YouTube videos where most people access their info these days and other social media, have a webinar where people can discuss child safety and make it available…etc.

    Bottom line, I follow your FB page and you are doing a good job. Empower us with more information. I am happy to participate in any way.

    Best regards

    • Hello Christine.
      Thank you for your message and your concerns
      We shall work on providing more content through the blog platforms on the matters you have raised.
      Thank you for your continued support.

Leave a Comment