Child Street Hawking: Causes, Effects and Solutions
Street hawking by children especially the girls has been a common thing in most parts of developing and undeveloped world. It is not anything good. It does not only end on children’s hawking but there are causes and its effects on the society at large. Irrespective of the causes and effects of children’s hawking on the streets of many parts of the world, possible remedies/solutions can be applied by the governments, parents, and sponsors to solve the challenging issue.
Before writing further on this piece, let us define the major terms, child, and hawking. Who is a child? A child is defined as any person less than eighteen years of age. This definition is in accordance with the topic under discussion. Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary defined a child as a young human being below the age of full physical development. Street hawking is the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of female by means of threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power, a position of vulnerability or the giving or receiving of payments, benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over the child for the purpose of exploitation (ANPPCAN 2010). ANPPCAN stands for African Network on Prevention and Protection against Child Abuse and Neglect.
On many occasions, children who were being sent out for hawking business asked themselves questions why they were busy carrying trays from street to street to make money for their madams while their other mates were busy going to schools. Most trafficked and poor children who fall victim to this inhuman and intimidating condition are always busy preparing for their hawking business while the other privileged children of their mate are seen rushing to schools so that they will not be punished by their teachers. What a pitiable condition. The most heartbreaking of it is that the madam to these trafficked children hardly buys good clothes for these children for the hard work they do. Early in the morning even at cold weather condition, these children are seen on the streets wandering like sheep without a shepherd.
In this piece of a write-up, justice will be done on the topic and in-depth research work was carried out to make this work a standard and sound one. The piece centers on the overview, causes, effects and solutions to children hawking on various streets of the world. These are separated into subheadings with simple and clean understandable grammatical British English.
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Who are the Street Children?
Street children are known to be homeless children who are below the age of eighteen (18) seen wandering the streets begging for money and help from the pedestrians, businessmen, and car owners. These children in most cases have no homes and no mother to call their own. Their mother gave birth to them and left them to keep wandering. Street children are common in most Islamic countries and countries that have tribes which practice Islam like Afghanistan, Egypt, India, Nigeria, and others.
There are two broad categories of street children. The categories of street children are the home-based street children and the street based. Home-based are those street children that have homes and families. They come out in the days for their works like Children Street hawking, which this topic is all about, and go back to their homes in the evening after their street functions. The street-based street children are those who have no homes. They come out to the streets for their street works and sleep on the streets.
Many bodies, international organizations, and non-governmental organizations have given their definitions on street children. According to Wikipedia, a street child is a term for children experiencing homelessness who live in streets of a city. Street children are boys and girls aged under eighteen years, for whom “the street” (including unoccupied dwellings and wasteland) has become home and/or their source of livelihood, and who are inadequately protected or supervised (Lily Collins and Sara 2009). Street children are made up of two genders which are males and the females. The female street children are sometimes called gamines.
Street children are found in many parts of the world included the developed country like the United States. These children in some parts of the world have the local names they are given. In Nigeria for instance, these children are sometimes called the Almajiri. The wandering about of these children on most streets of Nigeria has Islamic religious link. They are seen on the roads in northern parts of Nigeria begging for foods and money from one street to the other. Because of this, they are sometimes exposed to danger like accident and health challenges. The sending out of these children to go out to the streets and beg is an act against the Child’s Right Act.
The United States on the other hand has registered a large number of street children on yearly basis. The number of homeless children in the U.S grew from 1.2 million in 2007 to 1.6 million in 2010 (Wikipedia 2015). According to NIAAA (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism), 85% of the street children in the United States do not leave their States to other states. The report has it that if they leave, they usually find themselves in big cities like New York City, Los Angeles, Portland, Oregon, and San Francisco.
Causes of Child Street Hawking
A number of factors have propelled the world children into hawking in various streets. It is not as if the children are not happy to join their mates in schools to enjoy the breeze of good Western Education but something caused such condition to take place among the children. Hence, the causes of street hawking by children are:
- Poor family planning;
- Child trafficking;
- Wars; and
Poverty as a Cause of Street Hawking by Children
Have you ever tested poverty in your life? Do you think poverty is sweet, sour or bitter? Have you ever had a discussion with someone who had been suffering from the menace of poverty? Poverty is bad and can push people into situations they do not want to find themselves.
In Nigeria, the increasing scourge of poverty and worsening economic condition means there has been a drastic rise in street hawking in the country’s major cities such as Lagos, Port-Harcourt, Abuja and Onitsha (Nzubechukwu Okeke 2016). Poverty is a major cause of hawking by children. When the money made by the parents are not enough to sustain the family, they send the children to the streets to make extra money to support the family.
Who is a poor person? A person is said to be poor when he or she lives below $1.25 a day. It is clear that there are many people all over the world that live below this amount on daily basis. Some parents who leave below this amount of money have forced their children into the topic of discussion.
Yes, poverty has contributed greatly to child street hawking. Because parents cannot afford enough money to eat in their homes not to even talk more of the one they will use to pay for their school fees, they made efforts to buy trays for their children and fill them with some edible materials to be sold on streets to people and road travelers. These children in the course of street hawking meet their ancestors through there by road accidents.
Religion as a Cause of Child/Children Street Hawking
Many may ask: how can a religion which is invented into the world to solve issues and human problems be a cause of children street hawking? Some may get so confused and say that the author cannot win the argument by saying that religion which works to bring about human spiritual and physical welfare now turns to be an agent of social disorder.
There are some religious practices and beliefs that send the children to the streets to start begging for money. Some of these children in the course of carrying out their religious duties fall prey of some hungry men in the society. A notable example is the one that occurs in Nigeria among Islamic religion. This is a situation whereby some children are sent out by their leader called the mallam to go to the streets of the country and beg for food and money. Some in the process of doing this find their ways to other locations of the country where they save some money and start hawking on the country’s streets.
In the present time, the leadership of President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria has abolished that and introduced Western Education among all these children where they learn how to read and write instead of wandering the streets in search of money and food.
Poor Family Planning: A Cause of Child Street Hawking
There are men that know how to easily impregnate their wives but find it difficult to train their children. They are always fast to do their “inner works” very well but say they cannot kill themselves in training the products of their “inner works”. There is an adage that says that “gathering all the cocoyam out is not the same with the cultivation of the cocoyam”. That is to say that giving birth to a dozen children is not the same with the training of those children. There are families that gave birth to too many children but all the children are being handed over to other persons.
Because some families do not adopt and practice family planning, they give birth to more that the number they can train. The children brought into the world by their parents face difficulties as a result of this. It is not only the children that face hardship but also the parents that gave birth to them. The parents begin to think about how to get support to train the children and this ends up sending the children to the streets to make money. They make money through hawking of goods on streets for people to buy and pay them.
Child trafficking as one of the Principal Causes of Child Hawking
Child trafficking is an act against the Law but traffickers are still engaging in such dirty business. Trafficking is defined as the recruitment, transfer, harboring, or receipt of a child for the purpose of exploitation (Research Clue 2014). In some countries, women in the cities visit rural areas and meet mothers who they think can easily agree for them to take their daughters or sons to the city where they stay. The poor parents usually think that the persons they handed over their children will take care of them properly without knowing that they have subjected their children to the modern day slavery known as child trafficking.
The city women usually go to some other parts of the rural areas to gather as many children they want and finally travel to the cities with them. When the children get to the cities, they would be surprised to see that they were trafficked and hence do not know how to make their ways back to their locations (their parent's homes). The “business women” usually hand these children to other people who subject them to hawking on the streets of the cities. Some of these children were usually raped and exploited while hawking on the streets.
Wars: A Factor that Cause Child/Children Hawking in Many States
A wise government does anything within his power to see that anything that can lead to war is eliminated. The reason is because wars have many disadvantages. In fact, wars come with many negative attributes and that is why rational individuals do not want such to take place. Those who have experienced war before can tell more on this.
When wars occur, children usually go fatherless and motherless as the breeze of wars come with many killings and bloodshed. The blood that was shed during wars is usually that of the parents of various children. When these children loose the people that care for them as a result of wars, some persons take care of them which are not as excellent as how their parents usually did. They are most times subjected to street hawking as their parents are no longer alive to house and clothe them properly.
By 1992, there were at least seven million homeless children in Russia due to the devastation from World War I and Russian Civil War (Alan 1996). These were wars that claimed the lives of many mothers and fathers and made the children homeless. Most of these children end up on streets and got themselves employed in street hawking businesses.
Illiteracy as a Cause of Children Street Hawking
There are locations in the world that have parents with high illiteracy level. These kinds of parents do not pay any good respect to education. They are bankrupted on the importance of education to nations. Because they lack the knowledge on how education can transform people to be better, they prefer to send their children to the streets where they will make money for them.
The illiteracy the parents of the children suffered from will be transferred to the children because the children do not attend schools when their mates were learning in their various classrooms. Illiteracy in some African countries, for instance, has contributed to the high level of street hawking by children in the location.
Effects of Children Hawking
It is not all about making money through children by sending them to streets to hawk but another thing that matters most are the effects or consequences of street hawking. The effects of children street hawking are not only felt by the victims but by the society at large. The effects of street hawking by children are, but not limited to:
- Prostitution and rape;
- Poor education;
- Gang stealing; and
- Moral decline.
Prostitution and Rape
There are many people that have made their bodies their own business set-up all over the world. The sole business of these women is to surrender their bodies to any man that needs them at any moment in exchange for money. Prostitution is a bad way of living because there are many dangers associated with it. The prostitutes we see in various buildings started it small and became professionals in the business. Some started when they were young as a result of hawking on the streets and become experts to their adult ages.
On the other hand, many young girls that hawk goods on streets as street children have on many occasions been raped by their superiors. The man may pretend to be nice to the girl child at the initial stage but end up forcing the girl into such wicked act irrespective of her age.
When will the children have time to go school when they are busy making money for their heads (the persons that sent them for such functions)? In fact, attending education is a history among most street children. The people that sent them to streets are only after the money the children will make for them in return to their destinations. Some madams that sent them out to the street sometimes starve them when they do not make enough money on the return to their homes.
Because these children were deprived the benefits associated with education, they face difficulties in their future lives. It is either they do not make enough money for their success in life or that they do not get employed to the places where they will be paid well as they have no qualifications. Some of them find themselves in the military and end up losing their lives in wars.
Because street hawking children are exposed to a lot of negative things, they can form a group that goes out to steal people’s properties. They were always on the streets making possible efforts to make money hence lacking in morals. Out of hunger, they can make plans on how to troop into areas and steal. Most of them in the course of doing this may get shot by security men and that ends their journey in life.
These children from the experience they had from stealing in their young age sometimes end up being highway armed robbers terrorizing the whole state. They become a problem to the community by robbing various government establishments, banks, markets and other places they know they will realize the good sum of money after their operations.
Street hawking children are not properly equipped in moral practices. This has been affecting most of them in a very big way. The truth is that they are used as slaves which are used to make money for their boss. They are as good as money making machines. Because of the kind of shock that the girl street hawkers experience, more specifically by rape, some of them swore that they will never be good to any man and sometimes goes to the extent of killing any man that comes in contact with them.
Prostitution is a sign of moral decline among people. Prostitution is one of the faces of moral decline in the United States. It is only men and women that are suffering from the deficiency in moral practice that venture into prostitution. Most children that are into street hawking do not live with their parents and this has robbed them when it comes to morality.
Solutions to Child/Children Street Hawking
According to Ruth, irrespective of the efforts but the government to solve this challenge, it still persists in some states. Street hawking in the FCT is a menace that seems to defy all known solutions (Ruth Choji 2013). But no matter what, it can be stopped if both the government and individuals do their part. A number of ideas have to be accessed, examined, cultivated and practiced to stop the challenge of street hawking by children on the streets. It is believed that these points/ideas will solve this challenge that all countries in the world have been facing. The solutions to children street hawking are:
- Implementation of Child’s Right Act;
- Construction of Orphanage Homes;
- Reaching out to the Poor; and
- Amendment of Some Religious Practices
Implementation of Child’s Right Act
The government and NGOs that work to ensure that the children are not treated in an inhuman manner have some roles to perform here. They should work by sending their officials to the streets of cities and fetch the wandering children and see how to punish the Law offenders that send the children to the streets. When the offenders of the Law protecting Child’s Right are properly treating in accordance to the offense they commit, they will stop sending the children to the streets for hawking.
The government and UNICEF should work hand in hand to ensure that the Law protecting the girl-child and boys are properly implemented and enforced. There should be government officials in different states of the world that will be checkmating on the children that hawk on streets and highways and proffer solutions to the children either by sponsoring them academically or providing the parents with the necessary skills that will increase their earnings.
Construction of Orphanage Homes
The building of orphanage homes is another welcomed idea that can reduce the level of child hawking on the planet earth. Those who fall victims of street hawking as a result of wars should be called into motherless baby homes were they will be taken good care of through the help from individuals and governments efforts. Doing this will reduce the number of street children and help overcome the health challenge they would have faced while hawking on the streets.
International and national bodies should assist poor countries by raising enough funds for the poor and more affected countries to solve the problem of children street hawking. When enough orphanage homes are built for the street hawkers whose parents are no longer leaving, they will feel at home to some extent.
Reaching out to the Poor
Some parents send their children to the streets not because they like hawking business by the children, but due to the fact that poverty is eating up their families. Parents know that what is good is good but could not help themselves and among the solutions to reduce their poverty level is to send out their children to the streets to hawk.
When any children are seen hawking on the street, the government officials who work to reduce the level of children street hawking should follow the children to their homes to see their parents. If after assessment and they discover that the parents of the children are poor, they should report to the government so that necessary attention will be given to both the children and their parents. The attention meant can be equipping such family financially to start a new business, enrolling the child in schools, and training the parents on the skills that will enable them to make money and sustain their families.
Amendment of Some Religious Practices
There are some religious practices that common sense detects they need adjustment and amendment. Some part of Islamic practices that exposes the children to the streets, whereby they go out to the streets and beg for money and return in the evening to their teacher is to be abolished. This practice adds to the number of street children.
The truth is that any who practice Islam may not be happy but the truth must be told. Exposing children to certain areas in the name of carrying out their religious functions is inhuman. It is an act against the Child’s Right Act and should be put to stop.
In Nigeria where this kind of practice is common, the government of President Goodluck Jonathan is seriously working to ensure that the Almagiri are not seen wandering the streets of the northern part of Nigeria. Because of the amendment of the Child Right Act in Nigeria which prevents this group of children from being seen on the streets of Nigeria, so many reactions have aroused from the sides of the Islam. The attack by the Islamic group in Nigeria called the Boko Haram, which is one of the principal challenges in Nigeria, is because the leadership of President Goodluck Jonathan equipped the Almagiri children with Western Education and prevent them from being seen in the streets. The name Boko Haram means that Western Education is forbidden and these Islamic groups have been attacking Western schools in Northern part of Nigeria because of the action that the president and his government took.
If there is any category of persons that should not be cared for, it should not be children. The reason is that this tender group are too young to take care of themselves.
How will you feel if to say you are among the children that hawk on the streets of your country? Child hawking on the streets is an act against Human Right Law. It is not a welcomed practice and is banished. Many governments are putting in all their best to ensure that such act is stopped. Discussed in this topic are children or child street hawking, causes, its effects, and solutions. A little light was also thrown on who street children are.
Stand for the street children and fight against any act that will add to child street hawking.
- Alan, M. B (1996), And Now My Soul Is Hardened: Abandoned Children in Soviet Russia, 1918-1930, University of California Press
- Lily Collins and Sara, T. (2009), State of the World’s Street Children: Violence Report, Slide Share Publication Inc, retrieved January 30, 2015
- Muhammad Mahmud (2013), Almajiri: Beyond Rhetorics, retrieved January 30, 2015
- Nzubechukwu O. (2016), Nigeria should tackle poverty rather than hound hawkers off the streets, Nigeria, published by News 24, South Africa
Ruth C (2013), Nigeria: Street Hawking - Sign of Poverty or Greed?, published by All Africa, Nigeria
- Wikipedia (2015), Street Children, retrieved January 30, 2015