There was a belief that street hawking prepares the children for adult roles, this belief does not take cognizance of the fact that the juvenile hawkers on the street are exposed to numerous hazards ranging from physical violence to loss of wares, risk of accident, robbery, kidnapping and even murder for ritual purposes. They are exposed to vagaries of weather (extremes of cold or heat), to insects and reptiles bites, to hunger and deprivation.

The most troubling, perhaps, is the fact that some are sexually exploited and forced into prostitution with the risk of unwanted pregnancies and contracting sexually transmitted infections (including HIV). Kathleen (1988) argued that child labour has physical consequences on the children. These range from malnourishment, disease, musculoskeletal disorders from heavy labour, physical and sexual abuse. (Korbin, 1983) and (Malinosky and Hansan, 1993) opined that child labour can result into bodily injuries to the children and expose them to toxic agents in the process. (Basu and Van, 1998) protested that socially, children can experience negative effects on their educational development and performance. Illiteracy, low school attendance, and low enrolment have developmental and performance implication and have been attributed to children‟s economic participation.

Onuzulike (2007) grouped the consequences of street hawking by children into three, namely: Physical, Psychological and Social. Physical consequences include: accidents, spread of communicable diseases, food poisoning and traffic congestion. Psychological consequences of child street hawking include: stress, fatigue, depression, anger and resultant ills. Social implications include: unwanted pregnancies, prostitution, smoking, robbery, truancy and poor academic performance among others.

Street hawking does not endanger only the lives of the hawkers, but also the food hawked and the consumer society at large. Contamination can occur from indiscriminate exposure of food items to air, dust, flies and dirt. (Onuzulike, 2007). Child street hawkers spend most of their time outside the home in a bid to sell their wares. They do not only hawk during the early mornings but at night and during harsh weather. Some of the hawkers are welcomed home with battering by their parents or caretakers when they could not make profit from their wares or when they could not finish selling their wares. Above all, hawking affects academic performance of the children. Most of the hawkers who hawk in the morning hours before going to school are perpetual latecomers to school. They lack concentration in class work due to fatigue and stress. These result to poor academic performance, delinquency and truant behaviour. They tend to show behavioural problems, low self – esteem withdrawal syndrome, oppositional behaviour and learning difficulties (Ebigbo, 1993).

Children hawkers may end up becoming „‟street children or children of the street” when they run away from parental or guardian abuse, leaving them to eke out a living on their own (Finkelman, 1995). The physical and health consequences of children participating in the sales and service sector in Latin America, Asia and Africa include diseases (respiratory problems) injuries, rape and molestation, mal nourishment, extortion of income, police harassment and participation in harmful or delinquent activities. Such children may face robbery, inadequate sleep due to fatigue and long hours on the job and confinement in juvenile homes (Ross, 1996).

Children hawkers also encounter problems related to their psychological well – being. These include stigmatization by the press and public, feelings of disheartenment, stress and irritability, personality disorders, anti – social behaviours, alienation, and isolation from their family (Amin, 1994) . There are negative effects on education and overall human capital formation (Murphy et al., 1991). Children hawkers tend to keep bad company and are negatively pressured to engage in delinquent behaviors (Hughes, 2009). The common trend emerging from the synthesis of literature is that street hawking has detrimental effects for children‟s health, social and educational well – being. Legal Framework against Child Abuse Under the Nigerian Law, a person can be classified into four folds namely: an infant (age 1-6years),a child (age 7-13year), a young person (14-17years) and an adult (18year and above). However, the child Rights Act 2003 classified any person who is below the age of 18 years as a child. In the same vein, the Convention on the Rights of the child (CRC) defines a child „as any human being who is below the age of 18, years except the law of the child‟s country states otherwise‟. For the purpose of this work, the child is referred to as any human being below the age of 18 years.

It is important to note that Labour Act, Criminal Code, Penal Code, the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigerian Constitution. (1999), Child Right Act (2003) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) shall be our guide under this legal framework. According to the convention on the right of the child (CRC) to which Nigeria is a signatory, a child is defined as „a human being below the age of 18 years, except the law of the child‟s country stated otherwise‟. Some of the highlights of the convention are as follows:
·     Every child has the right to his/her life and the development of body and mind.
·     Government of member nations must ensure that child suffers no discrimination.
·     Children shall not be forced to leave or be separated from their parents unless by the order of the court of law.
·     The upkeep and upbringing of the child is the responsibility of the parents but the states shall assist and support the parents.
·     States shall protect children from all forms of sexual abuse, neglect or exploitation.
·     A sentence of death shall not be passed on any child below the age of 18 years.
·     Children shall be free to enjoy their culture, religion and language and shall be given the opportunity for recreational activities.
·     The rights presented in the convention should be widely made known to both adults and children. Government of member States shall carry the responsibility of educating their citizens on the provisions of the convention.

The thrust of these rights is to assure that every child born into world is accorded in his or her childhood and youth, the fullest opportunities for self-realization, by being entitled to opportunities and facilities which guarantee healthy and normal development in all spheres of human life. Labour Rights of a Child The law governing the rights of a child in labour issues in Nigeria is the Labour Act. Section 59 (b) of the Act provides that no young person shall be employed in any work which is injurious to his health or which is dangerous or immoral. The Act further provides that no child under the Age of 16 years shall be employed in circumstances in which it is not reasonably possible for him to return each day to the place of residence of his parents or guardians. The section forbids a child less than 16 years from working underground or on machines. It further forbids young persons from working for a longer period than four hours in one day. It places additional restrictions on the employment of a child or young person on a ship or any vessel and it prohibits absolutely, the night employment of young persons. From the above, one can see that the Labur Act does not prohibit Child Labour, rather it only places restrictions on where, when and how Child‟s Labour may be employed. Rights of a Child under the Criminal Law and Penal Law Our guiding laws are the criminal code applicable to the southern part of Nigeria and the penal code applicable to the Northern part of Nigeria. Section 300-302 of the criminal code becomes imperative for our consideration. Section 300 in particular states inter-alia: „It is the duty of every person having charge of another who is unable, by reason of age, to withdraw such charge and who is unable to provide himself with the necessities of life, whether the charge is undertaken under a contractor or is imposed by law which arises by reason of any act, whether lawful or unlawful, of the person who has such charge to provide for the other person the necessaries of life, and he is held to have caused any consequences which result to the life or health of the other person by reason of any omission to perform that duty‟. This section, like sections 301 and 302 of the criminal code criminalizes the omission or failure to provide necessities of life to a child and imposes liability for any consequence which may arise from such omission or failure.

Section 301 provides for the study of every person who as head of family, has charge of a child under the age of 14 years, being a member of his household,to provide the necessaries of life for such a child and is held to have caused the consequences which result to that child whether or not the child is helpless. These sections are meant to ensure that a young child in the charge of another is properly cared for. Penal code (section 238) of the code criminalizes cruelty to children. It states that “any person having the charge or care of a child under the age of 15 years or being in a position of authority over him, who willfully ill-treats such a child in a way as to cause injury to the child‟s health is guilty of an offence punishable with imprisonment of up to two years or with fine or both”. Section 275 of the penal code punishes procreation of a girl under the age of 18 for immoral purposes. Likewise, section278 of the same penal code punishes the buying and selling of any person under the age of 18 years for immoral purposes. While section 284 of the penal code punishes any person who has sexual intercourse with a girl under 14 years with or without her consent. In a related version, sections 223-225 of the criminal code sanction whoever trades in prostitution, facilitate the transport of human beings within or outside Nigeria for commercial sexual exploitation and makes profit from related activities. In addition, no sentence of death can be pronounced on a child or a young offender who is under 17 years old at the time of the commission of the offence. As such children and young persons are to be tried in separate courts. These are Juvenile courts. The Nigeria 1999 Constitution and the Rights of a Child The 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria does not specifically distinguish between the applicability of its provisions relating to children and adults. But it enumerates under its chapter IV certain rights tagged Fundamental Human Rights which are inalienable rights of all the citizens of the country, children and young person‟s inclusive. These are rights to personal liberty, human dignity and freedom from slavery and torture, freedoms of thought, opinion, conscience and religion, expression, association and peaceful assembly, movement, fair hearing in both civil and criminal cases, freedom from discrimination on ground of sex, race or ethnicity, religion, political persuasion e.t.c. The rights enumerated above are recognized and confirmed by both the African Charter on Human and People‟s Rights and the United Nations Bill of Rights on Civil Rights and Liberties.

In addition to the above, there are fundamental objectives and directive principles of state policy set out in chapter D section 13-24 of the constitution. Section 17 (3f) in particular provides‟ “the state shall direct its policy towards ensuring that – children, young persons and aged are protected against any exploitation whatsoever against moral and material neglect. This specifically addresses the protection of children against exploitation in form of Child Labour in all forms. (Nigerian Constitution., 1999).

Rights of A Child Under The Child’s Right Act Several rights of Nigerian child are listed under the Child‟s Right Act, 2003 but those that are directly related to our research are:
(1) Right to Dignity: section 11 of the Act provides that every child is entitled to respect for the dignity of his person and accordingly, no child shall, among other things, be held in slavery or servitude. Every child has the right to parental care and protection, and no child shall be separated from his parents against the wish of the child.
(2) Right to Education: section 15 states that „every child has the right to free, compulsory and universal Basic Education at least up to Junior Secondary Education.
(3) Right not to be exposed to Narcotic Drug.
(4) Protection against abduction: No person shall remove or take a child out of lawful custody.
(5) Protection against Child Labour: Section 26 of the Act States that „no child shall be subjected to any forced or exploitative labour or employed to work in any capacity except work of domestic character.
(6) Protection against Buying, Selling, Begging and Prostitution. Section 38 outlaws buying, selling, hiring or dealing in a child. A child must not be used for the purpose of begging for alms, hawking of foods, guiding beggars, prostitution, domestic or sexual labour or any unlawful or immoral purpose or slavery or trafficking or debt bondage.
(7) Protection against Sexual Abuses: section 29 provides that no person shall have sexual intercourse with a child. Such offence is rape and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for life.
(8) However, the most relevant parts of the Act to our study are: Protection against Child Labour, buying, selling, begging and prostitution. These two parts address the topic under this research.

The legal frameworks examined so far, clearly show that, children must be protected and taken care of by all means by the parents and by the government of every nation. They are set of people that are helpless and therefore, must be helped by all available means.
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