Introduction to Child Labour Although the issueof child labour is much more acute in the developing nations of our world, itis important to understand that the mistreatment of children is a worldwide epidemic.
Child labour refers to the employment of children in any work that depriveschildren of their childhood, interferes with their ability to attend regularschool, and that is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous andharmful.1 Legislation across theworld prohibits child labour. The question that immediately arises on thissubject is how large of an issue is this in developing countries? The answersadly is devastating, with recent statistics estimating that roughly 210million children between the ages of 5 and 14 are currently working nearly fulltime.
2 To put that inperspective, it is the equivalent of the total populations of Australia, NewZealand, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, France,Belgium, Austria and the United Kingdom combined. It works out to be about 18%of the world’s children. However, the largest single group of working childrenare those active in their parent’s business, farm, workshop, or other endeavour.These are not represented in the statistics and are very rarely included inmacro studies. Even with focusing the study on children employed in paid work, researchis difficult and relatively scarce for the developing nations.Child labour often involvesagricultural or industrial work, which often places children in very dangerousworking conditions. An even more pressing concern is that these children inrecent decades have also been subject to some extreme forms of violence, includingsex exploitation and trafficking and female genital mutilation.
Child labour isclearly a problem but what is most notable is where these children are living.About 60%, so just under 130 million of these children are living in Asia, withabout 23% in Sub-Saharan Africa. What this means is that nearly all childlabourers are living in a developing country. Economic and Cultural Reasons for Child Labour It is nocoincidence that there is a strong correlation between the status as adeveloping country and the rate of child labour.
“Child labour exists because education systems and labourmarkets do not function properly, because poor households cannot insurethemselves against income fluctuations, and because perverse incentives existthat create a demand for child labour”.3In nations where economic opportunities are low, manyfamilies have come to reply on the income earned by their children. For some ofthese families, sending their children to work may be a matter of survival.
Part of the problem for these developing nations comes from the total costs ofindustrialising and entering into global markets. Most developing nations canonly begin to industrialise and modernize their economy with the aid of foreigndeveloped governments in the form of extensive loans. Even after these loans,with the nation being able to build up their economy, they now face the issueof repayment and debt. Rather than being able to they new gains into their owneconomy to stimulate jobs or social welfare programs to combat the poverty thatleads to child labour, all of the nation’s resources have to go towards payingoff their accumulated debt. Sadly, it isnot just economic factors that we have to worry about when concerned with theissues of child labour. For these nations where child labour persists, it hasbeen an epidemic for a long time and therefore has almost established itself aspart of that nations culture. If we look back at the history of Britain, we cansee that we faced fierce opposition against these members of our populationthat considered child labour a part of growing up towards the end of the 19thC.
It was only when The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty toChildren (NSPCC) was founded in 18894 that the attitude towardsthe treatment of children changed for the better. It was part of our Britishculture back then and now these developing economies are facing the same issue,with arguments made on both sides. Effects of Child Labour Child labouroften exerts undue physical, social, or psychological stress. Children are keptfrom education and the whole experience can cause detrimental effects to both achild’s social and psychological development.
The type of labour that the childis involved with is the key determinant of incidences of work-related injuries.Every year, an estimated 6 million work-related injuries occur among children,this results in 2.5 million disabilities and 32,000 fatalities every year.5 This is because the environmentin which some of these children work is horrendous. 10% of all work-related injuriesare accounted for by crushing accidents, amputations and fractures.6 Not only are thesechildren at risk of physical injury, but they are also exposed to internalinjuries through workplace toxins and chemical hazards from the environment inwhich they work.7The International Labour Organisation refers to three categories of childlabour: non-hazardous work, hazardous work, and unconditional worst forms ofchild labour.
IN their findings, hey estimate that around 186 million children(2000) under fifteen that are inveolved in non hazardous work. The definitionof this category allows up to 14 hours of work per week for children between 5and 12, and up to 43 hours of work per week for children over twelve.8 Hazardous work includesworking hours more than these figures and a working environment that has, orcan lead to, adverse effects on the health or moral development of that child.The estimate is that 111million children fall under this category worldwide. Childrenmay be exposed to high temperatures and a high risk of accidents caused by cutsand or burns if they work in the brassware and the glass-bangle industry.Children who work in firebox shops run the risk of burns and or an explosion.Children who work to make carpets run the risk of inhaling hazardous fumes andwool dust.
These children do not have the same level of immunities as adults.Their bodies are not as well adapted to dealing with these harsh environmentsand so these exposures can be extremely costly to the health of these youngindividual and in many cases has been fatal. “Using data derived from the Global Burden of DiseasesStudy (GBDS), estimates of child occupational mortality rates by region werefound to be comparable with adult mortality rates, indicating that theconditions in which children work are as dangerous as, or more dangerous then,those in which adults work.”9 However, not only does child labour effectthe health of that child but it also has an impact on the future of that child,his/her ability to receive schooling and perform academically. These childrenthat are forced to work by their families do not hae the opportunity to attend schoolbecause they no longer have the time. Even for those children that still manageto find some time to attend school, the work that they do gravely impacts theirsuccess and their future, they are not able to perform to even close to thebest of their ability, they are constrained. A research into 12 Latin American countrieshas found that third and fourth graders who attended school and had never beenexposed to child labour performed 28% better on maths test and 19% better onlanguage tests than those children who would attend both school and work.
10Furthermore, the issue of child labour is mad more complicated due to the factthat it creates a vicious cycle. A study in Egypt found that many men could notfind work due to their unhealthy condition as a result of the environment inwhich they were working when they were children. For example, one of these menhad been made blind from working in pottery factories since he was very little.
This then put the responsibility onto his 8 year old son to provide for the familyby engaging in full-time work.11 CombatingChild Labour The ILO, UNICEF and the World Bank are trying to focustheir efforts on the worst forms of child labour, in an attempt to relinquishhazardous working conditions for children. All three of these agencies, seek toassist governments in developing policies and strategies, aiding in theimplementation of programs. In order however for us to be able to fully combatchild labour, we need to be able to implement laws, making it illegal forchildren to work until they have reached a certain age. Furthermore, lawsshould be brought in to ensure that once these young adults do enter work,there are constrictions on the number of hours per day that they can legallywork, whilst also being paid the minimum wage. There needs to be a frameworkfor those people who wish to combat child labour with the backing of thegovernment.
A reason for the existence of childlabour in the first place is due to the pervasive nature of poverty in these developingeconomies. When a family lives in poverty, as discussed, the very often end upsending out their children to work at a young age. The issue of poverty indeveloping economies is pervasive and a difficult issue to resolve.
However, bybeing able to reduce poverty in communities, the support to those familieswould mean that they would no longer have to send their children out to work. Thirdly, a stance towards greaterfree education, with schools providing free meals and uniforms so that thosepoor families do not have to provide the necessities that they cannot afford.Education also widens children’s perspectives on life and shows them the broadhorizon which every child should have the opportunity to achieve. Without this,children become closed off and begin to believe that their life can onlyconsists of long hours for poor pay in a poor working environment. Potentialbrings development.
From the developing world, we can provideour support through ethical consumerism. By spending our money in the rightway, buying clothes from certain shops as opposed to others, giving some timeto investigate the companies from which you purchase goods, we are able toavoid inadvertently supporting child labour. We can stop funding sweatshops andother unethical businesses that are taking away the childhoods of young peopleacross the planet. We, as individuals, as to stop being seduced by savingpounds on our purchases. We have to appreciate that these cheap prices come asa result of employing children for incredibly small pay, excessively long hoursand in dreadful conditions. Finally, we can support the fightagainst child labour through our support of those charities that fighting thevery same fight. For a lot of people, we cannot afford the time or are simplynot in the right place to actually go out and provide first hand support, butmonetary donations go a long way in these developing economies. Charities thatfight poverty and that provide education.
These charities are workingcarelessly almost every day, dedicated to tackling this issue and attempting toabolish child labour all together. Conclusion It is important to understand thatit is not just the issue of child labour which is a concern for children inthese developing nations of our world. Linked to child labour are the issues ofphysical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse and child prostitution. Studiesfrom countries around the world suggests that up to around 80-98% of childrensuffer physical abuse in their homes.12Emotional abuse is that which impairs the child’s emotional moral development.This may include threats, criticism and even the withholding of love, supportof guidance.
Neglect is the pattern of failing to provide for a child’s basicphysical and emotional needs. Sexual abuse may include kissing, inappropriate touching,intercourse, incest, rape, oral sex or sodomy. “An overview of studies in 21countries (mostly developed) found that 7-36% of women and 3-29% of menreported sexual victimization during childhood, and the majority of studiesfound girls to be abused at 1.5-3 times the rate for males.
Most of the abuseoccurred within the family circle.”13Child prostitution “involves offering the sexual services of a child orinducing a child to perform sexual acts for a form of compensation, financialor otherwise.”14 Worldwide,approximately 1 million children are forced into prostitution each year, and itis estimated that the total number of children in position is around 10million. Child prostitution is not only a cause of death for millions ofchildren but is a horrendous violation of their rights. It negatively effectstheir sexual health, causes major psychological harm and places them at risk ofincreased violence in their lives. The issue of child labour is clearlypervasive, evidently exceptionally damaging and all too extant in developingcountries worldwide. If it were an issue that could be resolved overnight, I believeit would have been. We are limited in how much we can help this situation in asmuch as we struggle to change the culture of these developing economies.
We arestruggling to combat poverty and have been for decades. We struggle toimplement more stringent laws in some developing economies that aredecentralised and have patrimonial and absolutist states. But what we can do,is we can be more ethically aware in terms of consumerism. We can donate tocharities that fund aid for developing economies. We need to improveeducational systems and provide financial incentives to poor families to sendtheir children to school. The solution to the issue of child labour indeveloping economies involves an extensive and substantial effort from peopleall over the globe.
But with the support of our developed nations, and adetermination to ameliorate the issue, of course, I believe it will happen.1 2 3 Rifaey, T.,Murtada, M., and Abd el-Azeem, M. “Urban Children and Poverty: Child Labour andFamily Dynamics Case Studies in Old Cairo.” Accessed on 2 Janurary 2018. 4 5 6 7 Graitcer,P., Lerer, L.
“Child Labour and Health: Quantifying the Global Health Impactsof Child Labor.” World Bank 1998. Accessed on 10 February2011.8 9 Graitcer,P.
, Lerer, L. “Child Labour and Health: Quantifying the Global Health Impactsof Child Labour.” World Bank 1998. Accessed on 10 February2011. 10 Edmonds,E., and Pavcnik, N. “Child Labor in the Global Economy.
” Journal ofEconomic Perspectives. 19.1 (2005). Accessed on 2 January 2018.
11 Rifaey,T., Murtada, M., and Abd el-Azeem, M. “Urban Children and Poverty: Child Laborand Family Dynamics Case Studies in Old Cairo.” Accessed on 2 January 201812 “Rightsof the child.” UN General Assembly.
(2006). Accessed on 11 February2011.13 “Rightsof the child.
” UN General Assembly. (2006). Accessed on 11 February201114 Willis,B., and Levy, B. “Child prostitution: global health burden, research needs, andinterventions.
” Lancet. 359.9315 (2002). Accessed on 8 February2011.