The Dangers of Street Hawking to the African Child
Street hawking – could it be love?
Ask an African parent what they think about children and you will likely hear that children are a gift from God. This religious impression is held by almost everyone, including traditionalists. It is important to note that in many religions, the child-given God saddles parents with the responsibility for his precious gifts to them.
In many African families, children (especially male children) are the yardstick with which a family’s success is measured. In traditional settings, a male child gives a man his rightful position in the community.
Often when a marriage is without children, irrespective of the reason for this, the family is bereft of happiness. Sometimes such marriages soon come to an end. In some cases, couples may take extreme measures or use diabolical means in attempt to bear children.
Despite being so important to family, the African child is often shown less love and care compare to children in other parts of the world. An evidence for this assertion is the high rate of street hawking by children in many African countries.
Generally, children ensure the continuity of the society and as such, to invest in the proper development of a child is to prepare a better future. Such investment goes beyond mere classroom education which is one reason by which parents claim justification for sending children to hawk. They believe the children can contribute in raising school fees.
The future needs more than educated people. It needs children groomed with love, who understand the value of family and the importance of societal growth. It requires people who are physically, mentally and emotionally prepared to handle the challenges of their time. Street hawking can hinder a child from being the best he can be for the future to come.
Other major reasons why African parents may allow their children to hawk in the streets include economic empowerment, skills development, financial challenges or outright poverty. But all these when weighed against the potential dangers, shows that street hawking is more detrimental to family than helpful.
Below are some of the risks associated with street hawking by children that parents should know:
Possibility of accidents
Most African roads are poorly regulated and many drivers are insane. A child is not an adult, and may not think like one. Children are therefore more likely to cross the road or work carelessly on it. What happens if the child is hit by a moving vehicle? And how much has the child made in total from hawking? All his or her life’s earnings may not even be enough to pay the hospital bill.
Children, especially female children, are susceptible to sexual molestation when they are left to hawk on the streets. Many cases of rape, assaults and other sexual abuses on children are being reported in the media every now and then. So much more go unreported or undisclosed. To send you child hawking is to put him or her in harm’s way.
Abduction and kidnapping
Ok, your child may not be kidnapped in exchange for a ransom. But there is something worse – they could be abducted for different reasons including child trafficking and evil rituals. From time to time we hear reports of missing persons in the media, adults inclusive. How safe is your child if you let him or her roam about the streets for meagre sales?
A child’s social and emotional developments are largely the responsibility of the parent. Social development involves acquisition of the right values, knowledge and skills while emotional development captures the child’s experiences and relationship behaviours. A good balance of these enables a child relates to others effectively and contributes in positive ways to family and community. Hawking can create emotional barriers between parents and their children. Unmonitored interactions may also teach a child the wrong set of values.
Poor academic performance
Many children whose parents believe should be selling on the streets to raise money to assist with school fee often underperform academically. And this is not because they not potentially intelligent. They hardly have time to study, are stressed out from hawking under the sun or simply lose interest in school. If a family is financially handicapped, instead of sending children to hawk, they should be sent instead to learn trades pending when they can afford schooling.
Behaviours and habits
Children easily pick up habits that may soon become part of their personalities. Street hawking exposes children to different kinds of people, even uneducated and jobless people. Male children may easily be drawn to smoking, using drugs or even armed robbery as a result. You lose so much control over your children’s activities when you send them to hawk.
Prostitution and sex work
Street hawking exposes female children to prostitution and sex work. While wondering about the street, they may be enticed by people offering them a ‘better’ life. Out of ignorance, desperation or whatever reason, your child may give in to these requests. You may not know of this until it’s too late.
A child may begin to confide more in some stranger they met somewhere on the street who has now become a ‘friend’. He or she may cease to disclose much to the parents. The relationship between parent and child could grow less than cordial as they begin to display habits picked up from the streets.
These are only but a few of the dangers associated with street hawking. Hopefully you are convinced that there is no reason good enough to justify placing a child on the street to hawk. Children are delicate gifts from God. Love your children as God loves you to have given them to you. Street hawking is no way to show love to a child.
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