Engagement of children in agricultural work activities--scale and consequences of the phenomenon.
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Institute of Agricultural Medicine, Lublin, Poland
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Stanisław Lachowski   

Institute of Agricultural Medicine, Jaczewskiego 2, 20-950 Lublin, Poland.
Ann Agric Environ Med. 2009;16(1):129-135
The purpose of the study was investigate the scale and consequences of the engagement of children in agricultural work activities in Poland. The study covered 1,006 children aged 12-14, who completed an audience questionnaire form: 'Engagement of children in household and farm activities'. As many as 258 children kept diaries, in which they registered all work and everyday activities performed for a period of 8 weeks during various seasons of the year (2 weeks during each season). One third of the children in the study (35.7%) devoted a considerable amount of time to farm work (1-2 hours daily), while every eighth child helped its parents exceptionally longer - more than 2 hours daily on average. The results of the studies show that the great majority of Polish children coming from agricultural families participate in farming activities not adjusted to their physical abilities, and devote an excessive amount of time to this work (approximately 15% of respondents). In addition, the majority of children were engaged in work activities dangerous for them and hazardous for health, while a half of this group performed these activities frequently. Every second child in the study lifted objects which they perceived as heavy (55.5%), and drove a tractor (52.3%), while every third child was engaged in the operation of a straw cutter, cultivation of soil with tractor machinery, and planting potatoes with a potato planter. A slightly smaller percentage of children helped their parents with the slaughtering of animals, threshing, wood cutting with power saws. The children in the study also participated in sowing mineral fertilizers (approx. 16%) and application of chemical plant protection products (about 10%). Every seventh child suffered an accident while performing work activities on farms or within the household, and every twelfth was poisoned by chemical agents. In the case of 1/3 of children who were victims of accidents (31.3%) the engagement in such work activities was evaluated as high.
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