In this article, we consider the causes of child labor and street hawking in Nigeria.
A child is classified as a “laborer” if the child is “economically active”. The Nigerian government usually treats a person as economically active or “gainfully employed” if the person does work on a regular basis for which he or she is remunerated or that results in output destined for the market. Certainly, child labor is a form of abuse on the child.
International Labor Organization identified eight causative factors of child labor in Nigeria. These are:
1. cultural influences,
2. economic problems,
3. national debt,
7. inability to cope with the needs of the family members,
8. street life and
9. single parent’s families.
Thus, the dramatic increase in child labor and street trading in Nigeria can be attributed to several factors.
The rapid population growth witnessed in Nigeria, coupled with high rates of unemployment, inflation, low wages and deplorable working conditions have contributed to incidents of street trading and child labor as children attempt to help and support their families.
The major cause of this form of child abuse is economic. This is associated with poverty. This hawking of wares and food product on roads and motor parks is an economic means of making ends meet, either sponsored by parents or the child’s personal interest.
Cultural beliefs in treating the child are also another cause of child labor as children are seen more as mere properties of their parents. Another cause is violence against the child caused by emotion on the part of parent or guardian and ignorance.
Several reasons have been put forward as predisposing factors to child street hawking. These factors include poverty, high cost of living, lack of sponsorship, poor school performance, single parenthood, large family size, peer group pressure, poor home conditions, lack of parental care, parents‟ unemployment, parental pressure, poor scholastic achievements.
Under employment in Nigeria has made provision of social welfare services like education, healthcare, water supply and energy not only inadequate, but expensive, thereby promoting parents to resort to child labor and exploitation. Hence, some Nigerian parents and guardians abuse their children through street hawking in order to support family income and this hawking is encouraged because it is convenient for those who purchase their needs while in traffic, motor parks, offices and business centers. Thus, poverty and inequality are the major causes of street hawking and child labor.
Lack of social services at home, lack of good housing, inadequate food and health care service, have been known to compel parents to send their children into street hawking and child labor. The least privileged children, including children without families and/or without homes are the most vulnerable to these social ill. The economic constraints also force people to look for wealth at all cost to the detriment of their children.
Indeed, there is a link between parents with low incomes and the imperative to push children into work so as to supplement family income. Children of poor families have to help generate family incomes and compensate for economic discrepancies in the society. In such situations, poverty breeds poverty. A poor family has a high probability of staying poor since low family incomes carry with them high risks of illness, limitations on mobility, and limited access to education. Thus, the legacy of poverty is passed from parents to children.
Child labor and street hawking can be attributed to urbanization and modernization. People who migrate from rural areas to urban areas in search of better prospects are often ill prepared for urban life and therefore forced to either use their children or other children to enhance their economic situation. Child labor and street hawking can also be linked to child rearing norms and the attribute of parents, where, for the purpose of socialization, children are required to carry out assigned domestic chores and economic activities.
Child labor and street hawking has also been traced to the rise of capitalism as a system of production, where labor becomes a commodity to be bought and sold. Child labor was, therefore, encouraged by capitalism. The structure and functions of families play central role in shaping the behavior and skills of children. Children must be raised to be responsible members of society with appropriate values, beliefs and training. The ability of the family to function effectively is a factor in child development. Child labor is a sign of family dislocation and disorganization. As a result of child labor, the welfare of the children is adversely affected, as they are exposed to other social ills and dangers. They are forced to live in the adult world away from their families.
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