Currently, about 250 million children in the world are engaged in one form of work or the other. Over 150 million of this population are working in very dangerous conditions. Also, every year, over1 million of the children who are working will be vulnerable and be victims of human trafficking.
What Exactly Is Child Labor?
Child labor refers to any form of work or physical activity that can deprive a child of his or her childhood. Such activities are activities that are unfavorable to both the physical and mental health of the children involved and also activities that deter their normal development.
Pros And Cons Of Child Labor
As we are all aware, child labor is a much talked about and thought about topic, and both the pros and cons of child labor are considered. Yes, while child labor has its negatives, it also has its positives
A lot of people who live in the western developed world will see child labor as a taboo, and consider it a problem. Some countries also try to lessen this form of labor in other countries with laws and sanctions, and these countries also try to help curb or reduce the use of this form of labor with funding and education.
A lot of international organizations also consider child labor to be exploitative. Child labor has also been used throughout most of the past, but now that universal schooling has been adopted, this form of labor has become a bad practice and by most standards, no longer practiced, at least it is no longer a thing in developed countries.
Economic Benefits Of Child Labor
Of course, the most obvious benefit of working is economic. In countries where poverty is extreme or there is severe economic crisis, children’s work is needed if they want to survive. This is obvious to everyone.
In cases like this, work becomes too much and usually dangerous, and children’s agency becomes so constrained; dangerous child labor is a sign that something is very wrong.
In this case, intervention is needed to reduce the poverty and provide the material needs. Besides relieving severe poverty, child labor can provide improvements to the quality of life for the children and their families.
Psycho-Social Benefits Of Child Labor
Children love to take pride in the work they do when they successfully take part in the work activities. Most of us have witnessed, firsthand how work foster self-esteem in a child, especially if that child is otherwise marginalized.
Educational Benefits Of Child Labor
Apart from having economic and psycho-social benefits, child labor can have value for learning. It can confer educational benefits on children.
Education outside formal institutions can be gotten from the work children do to survive. Education is not all about formal schooling. Although it includes formal schooling in the modern world, it goes beyond that. Children learn a lot from the work they do – they learn how to interact with people, they learn the culture into which they were born, and work can also teach the certain skills.
Studies show that children street workers pick up the mathematical skills necessary for their day-to-day business. Other studies said they also picked up their communication skills which help them progress into more remunerative forms of work.
Cons Of Child Labor
The tasks these children are made to carry out are usually very difficult and the working conditions are very harsh, which creates a lot of problems for them such as malnutrition, premature aging, depression, drug dependency, and lots more.
These child laborers have no protection, from underprivileged backgrounds, minority groups, or taken forcefully from their parents. Their employers do anything they think is needed to make the children completely irrelevant, therefore, they able to exercise a total control over them. These child laborers work in humiliating conditions, their employers not minding all the principles and fundamental rights of the children.
Also, children who works will not have access to a normal education and will be destined to become an illiterate in their adult life, with no possibility to grow their professional and social life.
Child labor, in some cases also endangers the children’s dignity and morals, especially when they are sexually exploited, in cases such as prostitution and child pornography.
Children who work will also be more exposed to malnutrition. Child laborers are usually exposed to physical, mental, and sexual violence.
Children who work start working at a very young age. If they start working at such young age, they are stripped off their childhood. These children have no experience normal children have, as they are doing things that are meant for adults.
The organizations that employ child labor usually abuse them illegally if the children are not working up to the expected standards.
Why Do We Still Have Child Labor?
There are so many explainable reasons that despite its obvious negative impacts, child labor is still being practiced in some parts of the world.
The reason we still have child labor are;
Everyone considers poverty as the main reason children work at jobs they shouldn’t be working at, considering their ages. These children work because their parents can’t afford their needs, so they have to work to add to the family income or provide unpaid labor.
Child Labor is very cheap and obedient
The wages these children are paid is very low, and this is why employers like to take advantage of child labor. Some of this children even work without getting paid as domestic workers, Employers also find that they can control children more than they can control adults.
Child workers, unlike their older counterparts, are very unlikely to start protests or form trade unions. Children are also easily intimidated by adults. Their employers can force them into submission when these children depend on them for food, accommodation, and even emotional support.
In so many parts of the world, some parents beat their children and it is not considered improper, so employers of child labor take advantage of the fact that the public accepts corporal punishment and they beat their younger employees as a means of controlling them.
Even though is so many countries across the world, there are national laws that state that children who are below the age of 1 should not be allowed to work, the law is usually not respected. Over 13 countries signed an international convention that says children should not be allowed to work full-time before they reach the age of 14 0r 15.
However, in some of the nations that signed this convention, laws on child labor are confusing or vague and not obeyed. Employers of child labor usually have one reason or another to justify young children working for them.
Additionally, some countries do not have a constant birth registration system, so a lot of their citizens do not have birth certificates. Children’s ages can’t be known for sure and without proper documentation, these children may not be allowed to have access to state services such as schools.
Role of education
Not taking part in educational activities and attending school has a role to play in child labor. In a lot of countries, education is not free, and parents of these children have to pay for their children to be able to attend school. They also need money to buy books and their school uniform. This can be so much money for poor families and they cannot afford it.
How Can We Stop Child Labor?
There are so many ways by which we can put an end to child labor. No matter how little our effort is, we can discourage this bad practice.
Negative feedback and from consumers and bad publicity are not friends of all companies. They avoid this like a plague. No organization wants to be accused of employing child laborers because they know it will affect their profit when consumers stop buying their products.
You as a consumer can stop buying products of companies that employ child labor. A lot of websites give information on brands and companies that employ child labor, so you can do your research.
In countries where citizens don’t have access to free education and enough basic amenities, child labor is guaranteed to be a thing, so it is the role of the government to see to it that their citizens do not lack all these social amenities and their right to education.
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