Children's Emotional and Behavioural difficulties in the Context of Child Labour: The Case of Lusaka Urban District

Thumbnail Image
Nshimbi, Chomba J.
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
The child labour problem in Zambia has been growing steadily over the years. The number of child labourers has increased to well over 600,000 and these children are increasingly subjected to more exploitative labour because of their vulnerability arising from their social economic status. Child labour has a number of negative effects on children such as mental and physical problems, poor academic performance and negative psychosocial behaviour. Much research however, has concentrated on the impact of child labour on children's physical development. The purpose of this study was therefore to investigate the psychological impact that child labour has on children. The study was seeking to determine whether children in child labour experienced more behavioural and emotional difficulties than those who are not. The sample consisted of 46 children equally divided between those who attended school and were involved in child labour and those who also attended school but were not involved in child labour. Twenty four of them were boys while the remaining 22 were girls. The children were matched for demographic characteristics and attended the same schools. The age of the participating children ranged from 10 to 15 years. All the children were from three high density areas of Lusaka namely Kalingalinga, Garden, and George compounds. Naturalistic observation was used at the work sites where the targeted children were found to validate that they were actually involved in child labour. Only those children, whom it was established were involved in child labour, were included in the sample. An adapted version of The Strength and Difficulties Questionnaires (SDQ) was used for collecting data from the children. The researcher administered the self rated SDQ to the children and the teacher rated SDQ was used by teachers to rate their pupils on the same characteristics. Information on school attendance was obtained from class attendance registers and school records. Focus Group Discussions (FDGs) were used to obtain the children's perception of child labour and how it impacts their lives. There was a significant difference in the prevalence of emotional and behavioural difficulties between the children in child labour and those not in child labour. On emotional difficulties, a significant difference was found between the child labour and the non child labour group in that the child labour group indicated higher incidences of emotional difficulties. The child labour group also showed difficulties in social conduct and a lack of prosocial behaviours. The findings also showed that children in child labour stay away from school more frequently than children who are not in child labour. There was, however, no significant difference in peer relations between the two groups. There was also no relationship between the self rating and teacher rating of the two groups of children. Child labour has many effects on children including psychological and social difficulties such as conduct problems emotional difficulties and absenteeism from school. These effects can not be estimated because children are still growing and therefore the impact of work on their psychological health may not be immediately apparent. However, the long term effects of child labor can be damaging and may disrupt the children's adult life. It is therefore important to examine and address the psychological and social impact of child labour on children because the effects may not be immediate and they usually result in unwanted behavioural problems. These problems may make it difficult for children to function effectively in society, and deny them a chance to benefit from their education.
Child Psychology , Child Labour