The employment of young children in jobs that deprive them of their childhood dents their ability to get a formal education and is physical, socially, mentally, or morally harmful and dangerous is termed as child labor. It is no doubt that child labor is prevalent and is both a national and global problem. In 2008 based on the report by the International Labor Organization more than 300 million children between the ages of 6 and 17 were involved in the labor market. Many international organizations consider the practice exploitative (Schmitz, Traver & Larson 2004). Several legislations have been put in place to prohibit the practice. Child labor was employed at varying levels with most children working in the agricultural sector, mining, and factories and as home based assembly operations. The practice is prevalent in the less developed countries due to the high degrees of poverty and limited schooling opportunities. However, recently due to a rise in availability of schools and increased household income the rates of child labor have relatively reduced. Child labor is unethical but is important in less developed countries. This essay seeks to discuss the possible causes, effects and solutions to the issue of child labor.
Child labor is attributed to various causes. The first cause of child labor practice is poverty. Impoverished households force their kids to work to add to the households merger income. The income received from the child is considered essential to the survival of the child or even the entire household. Limited schooling opportunities are another driving factor for children to harmful labor. The young kids get involved in harmful labor simply because they do not have anything better to do. This practice is prevalent in rural areas because almost 60% of the children do not access adequate schooling facilities. The little schools in the areas are usually far, unaffordable and are of poor quality. The Second cause of child labor is theCultural causes. There are some cultural beliefs that rationalize child labor in the European countries thereby encouraging the practice. They perceive work as essential for skill development and character building. In countries that still have the informal economy and households business thrive; they perceive that children must follow the footsteps of their parents. They are therefore exposed to learning and practicing those forms of trade while still very young (Schmitz, Traver & Larson 2004). Similarly, the education of girls is less valued in many customs and traditions. The girls were exposed to child labor at a tender age such as providing of household services.
The third cause of child labor is the HIV pandemic. It is prevalent in developing countries; this has resulted in increased number of orphans who are forced to be the breadwinners to their homesteads. In some cases, parents were forced to sell their children to pay up their debts or get a loan. Furthermore, the demand for cheap labor meant that young children were given the jobs instead of their parents. They exploited the children forcing them to work for fewer wages (Schmitz, Traver & Larson 2004). Moreover, children were not aware of their rights and were less likely to revolt or to complain. Also the international sex trade gives more value on child prostitutes. They kidnapped young girls and boys and selling them to child traffickers who supply them to overseas markets. Young children due to poverty and racial and sexual discrimination get involved in the sex tourism. Some of the child labor practices are experienced in the mining firms in Africa.
Young children were hired to work in mining firms. For example in Sierra Leone young children were engaged in mining of diamond. In the cobalt and copper mines that supplied the Chinese companies in the Democratic Republic of Congo child labor was prevalent. They were made to dig the ore their hands as well as carry the sacks of the ore. Reports show that more than 70,000 child laborers attributed for around 40% of all the miners and were aged below 16 years was supplying the ores to Chinese organizations in Congo. Another example of child labor is experienced in the Silk weaving industries. The human rights watch report in 2003 depicted that young children were employed, working for six days a week 12 hours a day. Similarly, in Chihuahua around 4% of the minor population participates in the labor market (Schmitz, Traver & Larson 2004). Getting involved in the labor market meant that less or no time was assigned to the school.
It is no doubt that child labor does more harm than good to children. It deprives children mental, physical and education development hence their childhood is typically stolen. When the child laborers work for long hours, they lack time to get involved in school activities, indulge in social interactions as well as emotional and personal development support is denied to them by their family. The first effect child labor is pesticide poisoning in the fields. For example in Sri-Lanka it is estimated that pesticides kill more child laborers than polio, malaria or diphtheria. Globally pesticides attribute to more than 40,000 deaths every year (Bass 2004). Sexually transmitted illnesses such as HIV/AIDS are a risk to more than a million young children who are exposed and forced into prostitution each year. Drug addiction, pregnancy, and mental problems are some of the prevalent challenges among child prostitutes. The second effect is malnutrition and exhaustion are which are also attributed to child labor performing manual labor working for longer hours in tough conditions and earning limited income to sustain hardly them adequately. The third effect is health problems such as asbestosis and respiratory diseases are common where the children are forced to work in harmful chemicals. This results in growth deficiency as they become shorter and lighter than other children (Bass 2004). Moreover, mutilations and physical injuries are as a result of badly maintained appliances and machinery in the factories and farms. Past report from studies clearly shows the prevalence of child labor. Statistics show that globally more than 160 million young children are forced into child labor attributing to 11% of the total children population worldwide. Most of the child labor takes place in the agricultural sector accounting for almost 60% of child labor. It is estimated that there are about 70 million people aged between 15 to 25 years who are not employed while those employed earn unfair income, lack of job security and lack of adequate social protection. Over 40 million of young adolescents aged between 14 and 17 years indulge in hazardous work attributing to 40% of all employed adolescents. More young adolescents below 15 years leave school to work in most developing countries
Despite the increased cases of child labor, some measures can be implemented to reduce or eliminate child labor practice. The first possible solution is the provision of cheap and quality education: the primary cause of child labor is poverty or poor quality education. More children leave school to work to get some earning to support themselves simply because the available schools is far expensive, provide poor quality education or are relatively far to be easily accessed. Therefore, improving the accessibility and quality education is the best way to reduce the prevalence of child labor (Herumin 2007). The second solution is the creation of more unions to prevent and protect children against the practice of child labor will help in the elimination of child labor (Herumin 2007). Having more unions will help create awareness in what is taking place in the workplaces. Some of the unions that are in existence that are fighting for the rights of children include; the stop labor coalition, United childrens fund, the national child labor committee and the international program on the elimination of child labor. The third possible solution is creating a minimum household income. Most families force their children into child labor to add their income to survive. If these households get out of poverty and can earn steady income, their children will not have to indulge in harmful labor to get income. Some of the actions undertaken by different countries include action against by the international program on the reduction of child labor designed a project TACKLE (Tackling child labor through education aiming to reduce and eliminating child labor practice in African countries (Bagchi 2010). Also, in 1986, India launched a law that prohibited children from working in hazardous industries. The Haryana High Court and Punjab in 2013 gave a direction of banning employment of children under the age of 14 years.
Child labor besides being a hazardous practice it some has some advantages. On the positive side, the children who work are paid and get work experience. The children start working while young accumulating considerable experience and will have more competitive opportunities in the future than those who do not have prior experience (Baland & Robinson 2000). Furthermore, they get wages to support their low-income families and besides expresses their responsibility to their households. On the disadvantage side companies employing children are said to be violating the law in that the children are usually young to adapt to the tough working conditions that can affect their mental and physical sides (Baland & Robinson 2000). Based on this comparison I think that child labor is still necessary for the developing countries since they get to earn to support their low-income families. A countries weakness or strength depends upon the young generation. Both families and the government should, therefore, thrive at providing children with best conditions for their development. In conclusion, employment in the recent past has become a very sensitive issue. Many companies are using child labor because of profits this arguably wrong by most scholars. While other scholars believe it is good practice for gaining significant skills and earning.
Bagchi, S. S. (2010). Child labor and the urban Third World: Toward a new understanding of the problem. Lanham, Md: University Press of America.
Baland, J. M., & Robinson, J. A. (2000). Is child labor inefficient?. Journal of Political Economy, 108(4), 663-679.
Bass, L. E. (2004). Child labor in Sub-Saharan Africa. Boulder: L. Rienner.
Gifford, C. (2009). Child labor. London: Evans.
Herumin, W. (2007). Child labor today: A human rights issue. Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow Publishers.
Schmitz, C. L., Traver, E. K. J., & Larson, D. (2004). Child labor: A global view. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press.
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