Prevalence, incidence and chronicity of child abuse among orphaned, separated, and street-connected children and adolescents in western Kenya: What is the impact of care environment?

Samuel Ayaya, Allison DeLong, Lonnie Embleton, David Ayuku, Edwin Sang, Joseph Hogan, Allan Kamanda, Lukoye Atwoli, Dominic Makori, Mary A. Ott, Caroline Ombok, Paula Braitstein - Child Abuse & Neglect



The effect of different types of care environment on orphaned and separated children and adolescents’ (OSCA) experiences of abuse in sub-Saharan Africa is uncertain.


Our two primary objectives were 1) to compare recent child abuse (physical, emotional, and sexual) between OSCA living in institutional environments and those in family-based care; and 2) to understand how recent child abuse among street-connected children and youth compared to these other vulnerable youth populations.

Participants and setting

This project followed a cohort of OSCA in Uasin Gishu County, Kenya (2009–2019). This analysis includes 2393 participants aged 18 years and below, 1017 from institutional environments, 1227 from family-based care, and 95 street-connected participants.


The primary outcome of interest was recent abuse. Multiple logistic regression was used to estimate the odds of recent abuse at baseline, follow-up, and chronically for each abuse domain and adjusted odds ratios (AOR) between care environments, controlling for multiple factors.


In total, 47 % of OSCA reported ever experiencing any kind of recent abuse at baseline and 54 % in follow-up. Compared to those in family-based care, street-connected participants had a much higher reported prevalence of all types of recent abuse at baseline (AOR: 5.01, 95 % CI: 2.89, 9.35), in follow-up (AOR: 5.22, 95 % CI: 2.41, 13.98), and over time (AOR: 3.44, 95 % CI: 1.93, 6.45). OSCA in institutional care were no more likely than those in family-based care of reporting any recent abuse at baseline (AOR: 0.85 95 % CI: 0.59–1.17) or incident abuse at follow-up (AOR: 0.91, 95 % CI: 0.61–1.47).


OSCA, irrespective of care environment, reported high levels of recent physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. Street-connected participants had the highest prevalence of all kinds of abuse. OSCA living in institutional care did not experience more child abuse than those living in family-based care.