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How to Address Children Begging and Peddling on the Streets

Updated on October 25, 2014
A child selling sweets at a railway station
A child selling sweets at a railway station | Source

It Is Usually Illegal For Children to Be Sent To Beg and Peddle in the Streets

This is a difficult and emotional topic for me, primarily because I work closely with children’s advocates and know that the practice of sending children to beg and sell on the streets is usually an offense. There is also the debate that the children are being exploited by their parents and that they are being endangered as they ply their wares or beg, especially at nights.

Why Send The Children?

My mind always races when I see these children. They are oftentimes so small, sweet, innocent and irresistible! But then the responsible parent in me kicks in and I am left wondering ‘where are the parents?’ If it is a case where the parent or guardian is that poor and needy, why isn’t he or she the one on the streets begging or peddling?

Unsuspected Adults

There is also always the question as to whether the child is in school, and I am oftentimes led to strike up a conversation with these children. But even in wanting to learn more about the child’s circumstance makes me wonder about the unsuspected adult who is going to question this child with ill intent in mind.

Children are More Likely to be Supported When Begging and Selling

So the question is once again posed: ‘how do we address these children?’ If they are begging and I tell them no, I honestly feel heartless if I could have helped. Research has shown that children are more likely than adults to be supported when begging or selling. What this means is that adults have also long discovered this fact. It is with this discovery that I feel that children are being exploited; but are we all contributing to these children’s demise?

Children Have Rights

Children are supposed to enjoy their childhood. They are expected to get an education, as is their right; but they also have several other rights, to include the right to a good life, to be able to play and not forced to labour, as is what they are doing when on the streets. They also have the right to be protected from harm and when sent in the streets to approach strangers, this isn’t exactly protecting them.

Is It Child Labour?

According to http://data.unicef.org/child-protection/child-labour, while children around the world are engaged in paid and unpaid work that isn’t harmful to them, if they are deemed to be too young or if the task involves endangering the child or being detrimental to their health or development, then it is child labour. This therefore means that most of these children’s rights are being infringed upon. I say most because there is a permissible age, depending on the country, usually about age sixteen.

Children Versus Adults

Some people might argue that the children seen are sometimes working in groups of two or more, but if you are to be honest with yourself and ask what can two five year olds do to ward off a six foot, five inches, 250-pound male, then you will understand that this is no consolation. The fact of the matter is that these children are at great risk.

What can the parents/guardian do?

1: Seek social security benefits

2: Do the work they send the children to do

3: Seek assistance in getting jobs if they are unemployed

What can you do?

1: Report incidence of child begging or peddling

2: Seek help if you know the family and relevant social agencies

3: Encourage others not to support this exploitation of children

4: Educate those around you on the rights of the child

5: Educate those around you on child labour laws


Their Protection, Our Responsibility

It is in the concerted efforts of those of us who know better that child exploitation and child labour will stop. Let us return to the days where it really took a village to raise our children. It isn’t just the children in our households that we are responsible for protecting.

Supporting Child Labourers

Do you give money or buy from children in the streets?

See results

Photo courtesy of Ayaz Asif at https://www.flickr.com/photos/ayazasif

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    • mothersofnations profile image

      Mothers of Nations 2 years ago

      It's very wrong and should not happen, ever! It's scary to think the child might be hurt by the "parent" (I quote the word because that's the opposite of parenting).

      It's not the child's fault if the family is in need and if it has reached that extent and the parent is unable to financially support the child by any other means, then it's time the parent does the right thing for the child and temporarily give custody to someone else (even the state if there's no other option) until the parent is financially stable.

      I saw that situation once several years back and I wish I had reported it to authorities. But I'll tell you if I ever see that again I certainly will report it. Not because they're "bad parents" but truly because the child deserves more than that and the parent could use the help from the state in more ways than one. Prayerfully that would resolve the issue.

      God bless you...

    • Keisha Hunter profile image
      Author

      Keisha Hunter 2 years ago from Paradise and then some

      Ouch! That's horrible! In all honesty, where I am from, I have never heard of nefarious acts by adults to let children beg. I have, however, seen the children during school time and wonder whether they actually attend school. Likewise, I have seen small female children after dark begging and selling in areas known to be frequented by prostitutes and their clients. I've always had a soft spot and want to support them until I learned just how wrong it was. More needs to be done to protect them.

    • Say Yes To Life profile image

      Yoleen Lucas 2 years ago from Big Island of Hawaii

      It's been a long time since I visited a country where children begged. I used to buy things and give them money, but I wouldn't do it now. I have since read an article that in some instances, children will be crippled in order to bring in more money. My father also told me a story about getting mobbed by adults when he was giving out money. So I wouldn't do it anymore.