There have always been children who work, but no matter why this happens, we must always protect their integrity and innocence.
According to some studies, 250 million children work in the world. Of these, 150 million do so in a situation of danger and at least one million are victims of human trafficking. I have heard it said that “if you want your children to have their feet on the ground, put a responsibility on their shoulders,” but it is one thing to teach responsibility and another to hold them responsible for tasks that belong to adults.
There is no day missing when I go out and see children – regardless of whether it is sunny or cold, if it is time for classes, vacations or holidays – on street corners, at bus stops, on the side of the roads or business, working: selling, cleaning, begging for money and even food. Many times supervised by adults and many others to their own devices. When I see them, I do not see children: I see people with a mutilated childhood and adult life, with fewer opportunities and a compilation of bad memories, especially because of the discrimination, violence and abandonment of which they are victims. Children who cannot be called children because their childhood has been stolen from them.
That is why I want us to talk about how to handle that responsibility. Certainly, it is fine for the little ones to learn to work, but without damaging their right to a happy and healthy life. Because at the end of the day, their main task is to be children since, in the worst case, life is always responsible for making us adults.
I recommend you read: Child abuse, it happens even in the best families.
What should we not allow in working children?
There have always been children who work, either out of necessity, by decision of their parents or by vocation. So simply saying that they shouldn’t do it is denying reality. However, even if for any of these reasons they must, we can always safeguard their welfare and innocence. To do so, the following should be considered:
Don’t expose your child to dangerous tasks.
Do not allow him to work during adult hours, especially at night.
Do not allow him to abandon his studies for work.
Do not take away the leisure time that he needs and is entitled to.
Don’t let a job stop you from living with other children.
Do not force him to do tasks that he is not prepared for physically or emotionally.
Do not put responsibilities on their shoulders that, due to their age, do not correspond to them.
If, with the intention of preparing him and teaching him to participate in the responsibilities of the home and life in general, you are considering putting your child to work, it is important that you always take care of his safety, his innocence, his ability. As pressing as a situation may be, it is not worth the risk of harming your children’s lives.
Children are the decision of their parents, but they do not belong to them. Since before birth – and even a long time after – they depend on us. Preparing them for life is one of our great responsibilities, but using them to profit using the power of adults is violence, and one of the worst, since it arises precisely from the source from which only love should emanate.
Please read: Children’s work is to play.