In Nigeria, many children under the age of fourteen, work outside their homes – they work as house help, hawkers, bus conductors, as well as servers in bars and eating places. Some wash cars, sell newspapers, or carry heavy loads in the market.
These kinds of work are called child labour. Child labour endangers children’s health and safety. Very often, the work prevents them from going to school or slows down their education. It does not allow children to play games, watch TV, play or do other things that children love doing.
It is true that in most Nigerian communities, young children have always been used for selling goods around the village or town. The children sell goods by calling their wares aloud or by going from door to door. However, this takes place in villages where the children are well-known and are quite safe. In such cases, the children hawk things very early before going to school or after they come back from school.
In contrast, in big towns, children hawk from morning till evening. They hawk in the market, motor parks, mechanic villages, busy roads, and building sites. Many of the children live with relations or in the streets.
Young children who hawk goods are in great danger. They can be knocked down by cars, wounded by motor scraps, beaten and hurt by adults. Young female hawkers can also be molested by adult men. In addition, young hawkers learn bad behaviours like lying, cheating, stealing and insulting people. Many of the young hawkers miss school regularly. Even when they go, they are too tired to listen in class or do their homework at the end of the day.
In spite of all the disadvantages discussed above, it is important to remember that some situations force children to work. This may be because their families do not have enough money; so the children have to work to bring in some additional money. Some children have to find money to pay for their fees, school uniform, books, and other things. Some guardians ask children to hawk in order to pay for their feeding.
It is quite clear that many adults are not aware that there are laws which forbid child labour in Nigeria. Some who know about the laws say that in our culture, children are expected to work and earn some money to help their families. So, it is sometimes, difficult to tell the difference between normal children’s work and child abuse.
Source by Vitus Ejiogu