One of the impacts of Covid-19 was the loss of income for many families. As a result, families sought different ways to survive including getting as many members of the family to contribute towards their sustenance. This saw to the deployment of children below the age of 18 into small scale businesses.
Evidence of this can be seen in the ever increasing number of children some as young as three years old on the streets selling all manner of goods just for that extra penny.
Nevertheless, one would ask, 'at what point can a child participate in the day to day activities of the family without it being labeled abuse?'
According to the UN, child labour is work given to minors that is seen as depriving them of their childhood and dignity, and which may harm physical and mental development. Here are some questions to ask yourself before assigning work to your child:
Does it take time away from their childhood activities?
Children should be allowed time to play as it helps greatly with their development, communication and interpersonal skills. If you find that the chores assigned to your children are denying them an opportunity to play, then its time to take up some of the work.
Will they miss school as a result of the task?
Education Is listed by the United Nations as a basic need. Essentially, educating a child ensures he/she gets the competitive edge needed for awaiting opportunities. Therefore, when this basic need is denied, a child's future is compromised.
Therefore avoid giving your children work that overwhelms them to the point they are unable to actively participate in their learning activities.
Is it aiding their development?
Discipline and a sense of responsibility are inculcated in a child through simple tasks. For instance, among the Maasai, a young boy is usually put in charge of a herd of goats tech him responsibility. He learns to graze these goats in his spare time with his friends before later on in life graduating to cows. The graduation marks growth in his level of responsibility and discipline.
Is it exposing them to harm?
Parents should be keen not to expose their children to any physical or emotional harm through the chores assigned. For instance, certain chores require children to use too much energy such that they end up suffering physical harm. Always ensure that the tasks you assign children match their strength and that they do not put children in risky environments.
Exposing children to child labor is a serious offense that cab attract legal consequences. Moreover, child labor jeopardizes your child's present and future well-being. Therefore, it is your role as a parent to ensure that your child grows up in the right environment.