3 Things That Destroy Childhood In This World
Many believe that childhood should be a time when kids are worry-free and happy. A time to play, go to school, explore, and socialize with other people. When children should learn about adult responsibilities, but not yet deal with them.
But what can cause kids to grow up too soon? To give up their happiness and education? What can cause them to deal with adult responsibilities such as money?
Here are 3 ways that the childhoods of kids in this world are destroyed.
Children in Poverty
Poverty. It seems like a simple word. But it is a big problem in this world. According to the United Nations, about 21,000 people die everyday due to poverty. And sadly, most of them are children.
Poverty can be caused by unemployment, inadequate salaries, poor education, or the problem can simply fall into the country itself.
I remember, a few years ago, when I went to Cambodia. I was walking around, being the tourist I was, when a young child, about six or seven, came up to me and tried to sell me these bracelets for more than they were worth. "One dollar, one dollar," she kept on saying. Of course, I took a few and handed over a couple bucks. The bracelets were actually real simple, but pretty. The pattern was something I could not have done myself - mainly because I've never bothered to learn. Why would I? I wouldn't earn enough money anyway, so why bother? Well, apparently, every dollar counts.
I was shocked at how desperate these people were. How families had to take such desperate measures as to send their children off alone, just to make a bit of precious money. I had thought then, this isn't right. Yet I knew in my heart, there was no other way for the children and their families.
It's not right that children should constantly worry about money, about whether or not they'd have food on the table the next day. It's not right that some children should sacrifice their education, the fun that they could have, their childhood, just so they could live.
Fortunately, lack of education because of poverty is not a problem in the United States, but in other countries, it is.
I'm not saying that this is the adults' fault. It's the whole system. I would not be surprised if middle-class Americans were counted as wealthy by some of the less fortunate people. But we could do something to help, couldn't we? Even a dollar of donation would be appreciated from the poor, because to them, it's not just a dollar. It is a drink of clean water when thirsty or good food when hungry.
Poverty has affected the lives of some children so much that they still are young, but they are grown up. They concern themselves with adult responsibilities such as money and food (or lack thereof). What happened to children being "happy and worry-free"? What happened to childhood being a time to learn and socialize?
Do you think it's alright that children live like this?
I wouldn't know what it is like to live in constant fear of dying every single day. But I bet that's how much of the people living in unsafe places feel all the time. Where there is war everywhere, every second there is a chance of being attacked. But children still go to school, be with their parents, and...live. There is worse.
Military use of children.
I never understood why there had to be such thing as a "child soldier". Child soldiers. Children that are soldiers. Soldiers that are children.
According to the CSUCS, there are children in some parts of Africa as young as 7 that are recruited to be soldiers. I'm not sure if "recruit" is even the right word. To me, it seems like children are kidnapped from their families and forced to fight or become human shields.
About a month or two ago, I read an article on DailyMail.com, about how boys that were taken by ISIS were treated. Apparently, they were supposed to learn to fight and kill those who were "non-believers", including their parents. Those who refused were punished severely - some of them had their legs broken. Those who eventually "accepted" to be trained were put in the front lines of the armies to kill and be killed. Others became suicide bombers, wearing hidden explosive vests to kill their enemy - and themselves, too.
It horrifies me that children are brainwashed to murder. I can think of several reasons why people would do so:
- Children are young and physically capable of running around and killing.
- Children are easy to manipulate.
- We are hesitant about killing child soldiers - even though they kill us too.
Child soldiers go through many things, including getting beaten, seeing torture, and killing people. I wonder how children feel when they kill their first person - a person who they did not really want to murder.
Those who do survive are psychologically scarred- waking up in the night with nightmares or suffering from flashbacks. They may also show depressed or aggressive behavior in their future.
But that is to be expected, considering the violence they had seen and experienced. Violence that, instead of real, should be part of their imagination or video games. Children are meant to have fun instead of being in wars, given pencils instead of guns, worrying about their upcoming tests instead of worrying about their life.
Unfortunately, soldiers have to keep on slaughtering these children until a way is found to stop them from killing.
Children are perfect workers because they are small and could fit in small places where adults could not, they are physically healthy but they are not strong enough to fight back, and they can be paid less than adults are or paid nothing at all.
Although children were workers or apprentices for most of human history, it reached its peak during the Industrial Revolution. They worked long hours in dangerous conditions in factories, in order to help support their families, even though it meant giving up their education.
Once upon a time, the children of slaves being slaves and getting sold was completely normal. Once upon a time in America, children working in farms, or being hired out to other farmers, was a completely normal thing.
In 1900, 18% of all American workers were not yet 16.
Fortunately, America stopped slavery and had did its best to stop child labor in the 1900s, education becoming more important. Now, education is compulsory for children in America.
But even if it is in America, that does not mean it is in other parts of the world. India is estimated to have the most child laborers than anywhere else, so I will just use India as an example.
In 2010, a child in India was abducted from her village. Lakshmi was told by her employers that she was in Madras in South India, but because she was never allowed to leave the house, she did not know she was in Delhi. She worked in many homes, earning nothing at all, until her rescue.
"I was not allowed to rest," she said. "If I did something wrong or it was not what they wanted, they hit me. If I wanted to sit down for a bit because I was so tired, they would scream at me."
Lakshmi even admits that she was sexually assaulted by her kidnappers.
She is not the only one.
One child is abducted in India every eight minutes.
Many of these children are forced into the sex trade, and the government estimates about half a million children are put into domestic labor. And sadly, many parents do not have enough money to go looking for their children.
Many fear their children would be lost forever.
18-year-old Sumila Munda, who was rescued in 2014, said:
"I don't want anyone to go through what I did. I often wondered if I will ever escape from the hellish life I was stuck in. I had dreams of being in school, studying. Now I will get back to my studies"
The law in India prevents children below the age of 14 to work in hazardous conditions. But that law is outdated and does not help with the situation at all. For example, it doesn't prevent children from working in nonhazardous conditions.
If the law changes, then child labor would be easier to prevent. Until then, children can still be abducted from their homes and taken into child labor.
The life of child laborers prevents them from having an education, having a family, having a fun childhood. To me, being abducted from my family and being forced to work is not called childhood.
Childhood - a time to learn, play, socialize, and explore. But not a time to learn what it's like to be kidnapped from your parents, to work for your own keep, or to explore the world by being sold from home to home.
Of course, there are other forms of child labor that do not involve abduction. Some of them are:
- Mining: Children in the world who participate in mine labor are constantly in danger of death from breathing toxic fumes or from being trapped underground.
- Farming: Children who help their parents farm are in danger because of the heavy machinery or farming tools. There is always a chance that they won't be able to handle the work. They may develop back pain, tuberculosis, poisoning, and may miss school during harvest season.
- Street Child Labor: Many homeless children have no one to depend on, and therefore the troubles that they go through in order to survive ranges greatly, from looking for recyclable material to washing cars.
But anyway, child labor causes kids to grow up too soon, to work like an adult, and to forgo education. Child labor can be caused by poverty - they must work to support their families - or child labor can continue happening because of poverty - people are too poor to look for their abducted children.
Fortunately, there are programs out there to help these children in need, but unfortunately, there are more than 100 million kids out there that are involved in child labor.