Child labour is when a child under the legal age (fifteen) are made to do work that is physically and mentally harmful and which interrupts their education or social development.1 Child labour is a serious problem in many countries. Africa and Asia has the most child employment with both making up 90% of total child employment.
They are everywhere but invisible, toiling as domestic servants in homes, labouring behind the walls of workshops, hidden from view in plantations.
The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that there are more than 200 million children today which are involved in child labour. Some of these children are as young as 5. Child labourers are involved in all type of jobs – agriculture, the sex industry, carpet and textile industry, brick making, construction work, quarrying and prostitution. The children that are working in a dangerous or hazardous environment usually don’t wear any type of protective clothing or equipment – this exposes them to toxic fumes and dangerous chemicals. Child labour should be prevented as it is taking away the children’s childhood, education and it is harmful to their health.
There are many reasons why a child is working as a labourer. Most work because of poverty, lack of education and also to support themselves and their families. 1 in 7 children worldwide are working as a child labourer. In Africa, it is 1 in 3 children. 166 million of the children are under the age of 14. 74 million are risking their lives because they are working in a dangerous environment such as mining and construction – there are no safety standards, no one has protective equipment, they are all working with bare hands and feet and only earning less than US $1.00 a day. 2
Child labourers that are working in match factories will suffer from phossy jaw. Phossy jaw is caused by accidently ingesting chemicals to make matches. Sometimes the chemicals used to make the matches causes the gums and jaw to become so infected that the jaw bones have to be removed. 3
Child labourers work almost every single day. They work for up to 16 hours a day for 6 days a week. This leaves them to have no time for an education which is important for a child’s future. Parents are sometimes responsible for child labour. They force their kids to go to work rather than getting an education. This happens because there are many people who are graduated but still are not able to get a job.
Young boys are put into work such as agricultural as soon as they are old enough to do the work. This is from the age as young as 5. Young girls also have to work at a young age but the works they do are not as heavy as the boys. Young girls do household and domestic work. These children have to keep working and are just exhausted at the end of the day which leaves them with no play time with other kids at all.
The children who are going to work every day don’t get to spend much time with their own family. They don’t even get time to play with other children in the same age. The only other children they are with are the ones that they are working with. The children who are suffering from physical and mental job stress will face several health problems in their childhood and later in their life.
Child labour is a must for many countries in Africa and Asia, without child labour, it would be even more difficult to survive. But, efforts should also be made to eliminate it. The effort made should be done in a proper manner which will not worsen the problem for those who are already affected. For the unemployed, programs should be introduced which provide an adequate salary. For the poor and the orphan centres, education should be provided for free.
Efforts should also be made to change the way parents view child labour. Many poor parents consider child labour as a good though they do not realise how it endangers their children’s health and development. Parents should be made to realize that it is in their best interest to not let their child work at a very young age as this will affect their health, development and self esteem.
In general, poverty is the problem that is causing child labour, eliminating poverty would solve most of the problems in Africa and Asia. The world would be a better place for everyone especially the children that are working as a child labour. Without child labour, the children would be enjoying their childhood with friends instead of working every day.
There are several other steps that could be taken to prevent child labour. many children left their homes in a way to avoid the abuse that they are victims of from their parents. To prevent this bad treatment, the government could help give conferences to the parents about child labor and the consequences that it brings. In this way, we can help prevent other children running away from home and living as homeless children.
Another option could be to build homes for those children that are living in the streets. They will be sent to these homes and they would not have to live outside. In this way we can help prevent children from any abuse that they can suffer in the streets. In these homes, children are not supposed to work; they can study and learn a career, and they will get a better job and a future.
Child labor is a very serious problem. Politicians should make laws to prevent child labor and find solutions. Children are our future and we have to take care of them if we want a better future.
1 Child Labour – Definition. (n.d.). Retrieved September 26, 2009, from http://www.redgoldfish.co.uk/viewglossary.asp?gid=45
2 YouTube – Child Labour. (n.d.). Retrieved September 26, 2009, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ruh0O_mj1v0
3 Child Labour and Disease – V&A Museum of Childhood. (n.d.). Retrieved September 26, 2009, from http://www.vam.ac.uk/moc/childrens_lives/health_&_work/health/index.html
Child labour – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. (n.d.). Retrieved September 27, 2009, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Child_labour