Author(s): Omokhodion FO, Omokhodion SI, Odusote TO
Background The adverse effects of child labour on the children’s psychological development continue to raise concerns about this public health problem worldwide. Several views have been presented by child health authorities, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and international agencies. Few studies have focused on the children themselves. This study sought to determine working children’s perspective of child labour, its benefits and disadvantages and the working children’s perceptions of themselves, and their aspirations for the future. Methods A cross-sectional study was carried out among working children in a large market in Ibadan, south-west Nigeria. Questionnaires were administered to all consenting children. Results A total of 225 children, 132 females and 93 males, participated in the survey. Their age range was 8–17 years. A total of 103 respondents (46%) were currently in school while 117 (52%) were out of school. Five respondents (2%) had never attended school. A total of 104 (46%) thought that children should not work. However, when asked about the benefits of working, 81 working children (36%) felt that work provided a source of income for them, 52 (23%) indicated that it was a way of helping their parents and 39 (17%) thought it was part of their training to be responsible adults. Bad company, ill health and road traffic accidents were the perceived ill effects of child labour. The majority of the children interviewed were aspiring towards artisan trades and very few towards professional or office jobs. A total of 106 (47%) children perceived themselves as less fortunate than their peers. Fifty-five children (24%) thought that child labour was a sign of deprivation. The perception that child labour is a sign of deprivation was more prevalent among child workers whose highest educational attainment was primary school, child workers who had worked for more than 6 months and those whose earnings were small. Conclusion We recommend that school education for children should be a priority even when the harsh economic realities in their families force parents to send them to work outside the home.