Are we exploiting our children without knowing?

Countless children, even before they turn up ten are dragged to all kind of lessons, from music classes, like piano and violin, to dancing classes, tennis games, and even pageants. The parents are forcing them to follow their failed dreams, trying in every possible way to live through them. This kind of parenting the last few years is getting more and more worrying. Kids stop having a normal living and start earning for life. Their education is prolonged, they are home schooled and tutored, but they lost the normal day-to-day association with their friends. They start living on the road, traveling everywhere across the country, making appointments and assisting to meetings. The not-so-grown-ups into a totally grown up world.

investing in childrenAnalyzing trends and challenges of today’s social order, we see that our world is changing at a breakneck speed. Are we preparing our children for a better upcoming in an altered world? Will they have the expertise to succeed in a challenging world? Parents have a significant role being proactive and working alongside the teachers, helping at home, preparing and guiding their children with the necessary skills so they can be effective citizens in a competitive world. Some of them do tend to go beyond that and exploit their youngsters. But, in addressing the matter of schooling in order to accomplish prosperity in the future, we must think about the abilities that will consent children to be prosperous in the world. The learning process requires changes that include studying in depth the raised issues and not only memorizing them. The child should have a superior appreciation of the mastered conceptions, their application, and meaning in the real life, and absorb more about the material presented in class. Thus, some parents think that by trying to invest in their kids’ carriers from an early age is justified. They try to integrate respect, order, ethics and discipline from an early age. They motivate them to reflect on their conduct, their studies and their relationships with the kids they are contending in order to be worthy of reverence. But they forgot about the consideration towards others. That lesson is learned at school because in the school they are peers, not competitors. And there they can make friends while competitions are not the best ground for befriending someone. They are not equipped to face the conflicts at that age, the conflicts that appear in the business world. They need to consider others opinions about their performance, to be patient and coexist. Something that is really difficult for small children.

Those pageants and competitions, those ‘jobs’ that parents forced upon their children are more about the parents than about the children. All the makeup and costumes, all the rehearsals and preparations are very tough for the kids. Some girls decline to take part in their parent’s chase for the dream that they don’t really share. And because of this, the girls are bodily and emotionally damaged. Mothers argue among themselves, compete too, and always assure others that their youngsters like that world. They ignore the fact that kids like to play and force them to have an everyday routine. Practices and practices so they can be the best they can be and win. The price is everything, and losing is not really an option.

All the above are examples of the developed countries, like Europe, USA, Australia, Canada but what about those kids who are enforced to work because they have to earn a living? If we look bad upon parents who drag their kids to different competitions, do we castigate those parents that have to do so they can persist?

What about the 8 million of kids working in Bangladesh in order to live? They don’t have time for silly competitions, they don’t have time to play, if they work today they can eat. The legal age so the kids can work is 15 (14 in developed countries). So how come kids are working in the mines of Bolivia when they turn 2 years? Those children don’t have a normal childhood. From the moment they are born, the parents know their future. They would be workers like them and help the family, provide for them. Apart from that, the difficulty of their responsibilities and unforgiving working surroundings generate a number of difficulties, like premature aging, malnutrition, depression or drug addiction. They are exposed to pesticides, gasses, and every possible known infection. And they don’t know how to handle themselves because they are kids. They don’t have the acquired training on how to handle their job since they are not supposed to have an occupation, and even if they have they cannot understand it.

In Southeast Asia and the Pacific, teenagers are traded so they can work as home personnel. Many kids are sold to fabric mills as labors deprived of payment to cover the sum unpaid by their family. In Africa, children are sold, often in exchange for livestock (usually, one child for one cow). These minors are misused in plantations or mines, or become again domestic workers. In South and North America, children are targets of prostitution so they can placate the perverse desire of vacationers and are progressively exploited by drug traffickers. They call that working, they are simply on the job front. In Europe, children are snatched, providing low-priced manual labor or supplying prostitution network that proliferates in Eastern Europe.

I know that one bad thing can’t be the reason for one lesser thing. We aren’t claiming that parents making their kids compete, making them sing or dance or just be beautiful in their costumes and makeup, getting a reward for that is justified when we see the bigger picture of how actually other children live all around the world. Any kind of exploration is bad, especially when there are kids at stake.

Working in a mine, cleaning the street, parading around in a costume, working the street, dancing on the stage, making clothes in a factory shouldn’t be part of youngsters’ daily lives. They should have an ordinary infancy and a decent education. Sometimes the fault is in the parents and more than often in the system. The system that lets small children be workers, the system that doesn’t do something about it.

Against this background, some NGO’s and international organizations are trying to remind the society that it can take a part in this and remedy the situation. UNICEF has launched a consultation on the Internet, for children to explain their concerns and detect their knowledge of their rights. Obtaining this information, they want to help the politicians to direct their activities more correctly, and at the same time, specify issues that might go unnoticed in the eyes of an adult. In the consultation, children are stimulated to explain what their human rights are, and are encouraged to assess their significance in relation to identity, family, health, participation, protection in wartime, against abuse, education… In addition, these rights can be ranked by the children, so the politicians can know where are they failing and where to impact.

Do you promise not to exploit your child anymore? Here we are not only speaking about work but about restoring the rights of our children, the right to be happy, to be truly a child, to have a chance to be in school and not be working. Not to exploit their talent, not to exploit their future, cause that’s a big part of it. Children should be sheltered against all usage of negligence, unkindness, and mistreatment. They shouldn’t be subjected to any kind of trafficking and shouldn’t be permitted to work before a suitable minimum age; in no case they should be permitted to participate in any occupation or service which would prejudice their wellbeing or schooling or delay their bodily, psychological or ethical growth. We must all fight against child labor, society, communities, legislators, governments and public and private organizations. When is involved danger and physical damage, mental or moral welfare of the child, when they are deprived of the chance to attend to classes or when are being forced to leave school prematurely and combine studies with heavy work.

But not all tasks implemented by children should be eliminated, some of them have a formative character. The contribution of children to professions that do not threaten their healthiness, personal development and that do not obstruct their studies can be positive; including activities at home, collaboration in a family commerce or carrying out tasks outside school hours or for the duration of the holidays. These activities are profitable for the growth of children and young people as well as for the welfare of families. They give provide them experiences and knowledge and help them to be fruitful participants of society in adulthood.

I fully agree with benefits that can be obtained when children and adolescents perform tasks at home or in business and economic activities of their families, in safety conditions and with respect for their right to education, recreation and rest. If we don’t exploit them, but teach them the cooperate in some activities their lives will be improved, they will learn new skills, strive and work for the present and future, and open a new world of possibilities.



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