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An increase in the number of the children hawkers in Nigeria has become worrisome. With selected respondents in a densely populated area of Lagos State (n = 100), this paper investigates the problem of street hawking among the Nigerian children. Agege Local Government Area of Lagos State, Nigeria, was purposely sampled and the respondents who participated in the study were conveniently sampled from the study area. Simple percentages and chi-square were the methods of data analysis employed in this study. The study discovered that the level of awareness of the dangers inherent in child hawking among the affected children was low. The investigation of the study revealed that parents ’ levels of education, parents ’ occupations and the sizes of the family were significantly related to the problem of child hawkers in the study area. The study recommends intensified enlightenment programmes on the problem of child hawkers, positive and genuine commitment by the government, mass, free and compulsory education, and a serious fight against poverty through poverty alleviation and eradication programmes by the government. The implications of doing these were discussed.


1.1 Background to the study

In order to understand the lives of children who live and work on the street, we need to find out about the lives and roles of children in any culture. There are certain African realities that affect children on the continent whatever their cultural context, geographical situation or socio- economic status. In the first place, children and young people from more than half the population of most African countries, has implications for the distribution of resources and for policy. Closely related to this demographic factor are the observations that significant deficits exist in the schooling systems of most countries and that there is a general lack of provision of child care for working mothers in urban settings, both of which are likely to be significant contributory causes of streetism.

Children in the urban areas are quickly caught up in the daily struggle for survival and material gain (Ebigbo, 1989). A situation analysis of child abuse and neglect in Nigeria, undertaken through the medium of news papers, found that child abandonment, sexual abuse, child neglect, vagrancy, kidnapping and hawking were the most reported forms of child abuse and neglect (Ebigbo, 1989).

Child abuse is seen as a feature of other social phenomena or situations, rather than as phenomenon in its own right. Thus, sexual abuse and exploitation, for example, do not constitute a single category but are mentioned in this account relating it with child labour. There is no generally accepted definition for the term ‘child abuse’, but it simply refers to the ill – treatment of a child by his parent or any other adult. Edu and Edu (1999) describe child abuse as a willingful maltreatment of a child. Such maltreatment, according to them can include acts of commission (abuse) and omission (neglect).

One of the basic principles of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child is that every child must be protected against all forms of exploitation, indecent or degrading treatment, including child labour, abduction and sale (UNICEF., 2000). According to the UNICEF, exploiting the labour of a child means employing a person below the age of 15 years and paying him/her less than the minimum standard wage. Trafficked children are made to works as hawkers and petty traders, beggars, car washers, bus conductors, farm hands or cattle rearers (UNICEF, 1997). The use of children as hawkers, beggars and bus conductors is widespread in the urban areas. Other worst forms of child labour include street hawking, drug peddling, herding of livestock, children used by the physically challenged in begging along busy streets and sneaking (this is a method whereby armed robbers and thieves engaged young children to pass through small inlets into their areas of operation), child trafficking, child prostitution, slavery practices, particularly in the fishing industry, child domestic servitude, exploitation of children in mines and customary servitude.

Factors promoting child labour includes poverty, exploitation by the adults and children’s own choices as a result of ignorance, among other things. The problem of child labour is pervasive in nature. The Western Societies see child labourers as people suffering from some psychological and pathological problems, while in the African Society; it is regarded as a natural procedure in child rearing process. Child labour has been considered a social problem in the African context and Nigeria in particular (UNICEF, 1997).

(Ebigbo and Abaga, 1990) opined that in Nigeria, the rate of child abuse and child hawking has assumed a worrisome and alarming proportion. He further noted that in Ibadan, Ondo and Ogun metropolis, it is a daily occurrence to see children below 14 years, hawking wares and other products along the roadsides. Hence, this study is pertinent to the problem. We discussed the determinant factors of street hawking; the effects generated by the problem of street hawking, and recommended some solutions to arrest the problem.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Although, child hawking, can contribute to the economic growth and development, however, the risks that are attached supersede the economic positive aspect of it. Risks like motor accident, rape, kidnapping, extortion, sexual molestation and the child involvement in robbery and other anti­social behaviours are too great to ignore.

Child hawking exposes the child to a lot of hazards like sexual defilement, sexual assaults, neglects and threat of punishment for speaking out as exemplified above. The consequences of these acts usually result in an unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, psychological problems and a gradual withdrawal from a healthy relationship with the opposite gender (UNICEF, 2000). Oloko (1989) noted that street hawking exposes the male and female child to dangers posed by fraudsters and actual murderers because of their vulnerability at odd hawking hours. They are usually under personal jeopardy, harsh and hazardous conditions such as becoming an easy target to occult predators (ritual killers).

Although, various efforts were made by federal government and non-governmental organizations to stem the trend, such as the creation of children’s games village, the passage of the Child’s Rights Bill in 2005 by the National Assembly and the subsequent passage by some states, not much has been achieved as the trend continues.

1.3 Objectives of The Study

Although, the general objective of this study is to examine the socio-economic determinant factors of street hawking, and the effects on the children in Agege area of Lagos State, Nigeria, the under listed were the specific objectives of our study:

  1. To investigate the remote and immediate causes of child hawking.
  2. To assess the implication of child hawking.
  3. To identify measures that can be taken to curb child hawking.

1.4 Research Questions

The followings were the interrogative statements we posed from the objectives of our study. They were research questions that this study answered (George, 2007)

  1. What were the remote and immediate causes of child hawking?
  2. What were the implications posed by child hawking?
  3. What were the identifiable measures that can be implemented to curb child hawking?
    1. Research Hypotheses

We equally put forward some intelligent guesses, conjectural propositions or assumptions known as hypotheses (George, 2007). The followings were the hypotheses tested in this research work:

  • There is a significant relationship between parent’s (s) or guardian’s level of education and street hawking among children.
    • There is a significant relationship between parents’ (s)or guardians’ occupational level and street hawking among children
    • There is a significant relationship between family size and street hawking among children.

1.6 Scope of our Study

Child hawking is a general social problem in Nigeria. It cuts across many states in Nigeria. However, this study covered only Lagos State. Under Lagos State, only Agege Local Government Area was covered and few respondents were selected. Moreover, our study only covered street hawking as a sub set of child labour.

1.7 Limitation of our Study

Our study was limited by time. Fund was another limitating problem. The study was self sponsored by the researcher. Moreover, other educational resources and materials also posed limitation to the study.

1.8 Justification of the Study

This work was justifiable because of the significant importance that will be derived. The work is expected to provide further information on the subject matter relating to socio-economic factors promoting child hawking among the residents of Agege. The work identified those socio-economic determinant factors. The study is expected to enable government, non-government organizations and related stake-holders to formulate policies on how to abolish street hawking. The work will serve as an instrument of enlightenment to parents about the need to protect the future of their children. The study will add to the existing knowledge in the fields of academics and increase the volume of literature on the child labour in Nigeria.

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