Free Child Labor Essay Sample
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What Is Child Labor
Child labor is the engagement and participation of children in work on a regular basis. At the present time, most countries consider child labor as a form of exploitation and, therefore, have declared such exploitation illegal. According to the text of Convention No. 138 on the Minimum Age for Admission to Employment (1973), child labor is defined as "work that children should not be doing because they are too young to work, or – if they have reached the minimum age – because it is dangerous or otherwise unsuitable for them".
History and Causes of Occurrence of Child Labor Exploitation
Until the 20th century child labor was considered as a natural occurrence or a daily norm. Due to the low wages, exploitation of children generated high returns and, therefore, was extensively used in all industries. There were factories, entirely staffed by children employees, and a number of large companies openly used minors as the main labor force. Exploitation of young workers was customary for the capitalist system. At that time, young children were exploited in any field of activity: they worked as weavers, longshoremen, stokers, janitors, and even miners. Children used to work in the same terms with adults, but their payment was several times lower than that of adult workers.
Moreover, children were often involved in various criminal activities, including prostitution and pornography. In some African countries, children were armed and forced to participate in local hostilities.
Another screaming point regarding child labor back then is that many children were exploited with the consent of their own parents. The child of a working class family started to work fingers to the bone once the opportunity for employment was found. Of course, all this seems terrific to a human living in the 21st century. On the other hand, such run of events is quite understandable. Fathers and mothers had no choice as they had to provide for a family. For this reason, there was a constant need for extra money and each penny counted. Working hands, even of the youngest and weakest children, had themselves to feed their "extra" mouth.
Child Labor Abolition and Public Opinion
Child labor in the 20th century was an evident reality and no one devoted enough attention to this problem. This matter would have been let take care of itself and nobody would have kept this issue on the front-burner if the campaign for child labor abolition hadn't started. The U.S. society immediately set itself against child labor exploitation. Any type of child exploitation was not endorsed by public opinion
On the other hand, another social group of the U.S. community, including professors, priests, financiers and company owners refused to believe that American children were engaged in mass commercial production. They were willing to admit only special and very rare cases of illegal child labor. In their opinion, those cases were not considered as a negative phenomenon, but, on the contrary, have contributed to the mental and physical development of young workers. They understood that legal prohibition of children employment up to the age of 16 would be a severe blow to the income of their industrial monopolies.
It was not until the end of the 20th century that international community started to implement measures in order to abolish and eliminate child labor exploitation.
Child labor impact at the family level
According to Galli (2001), "Poverty is the main determinant of child labor supply, and that child labor significantly increases the income and the probability of survival of the family". Therefore, it seems reasonable and rational for many poor families to send their young children to work. The problem is that these families to not think about negative implications of such decision that will begin to appear in the long run. Galli (2001) states that "since child labor competes with school attendance and proficiency, children sent to work do not accumulate human capital, missing the opportunity to enhance their productivity and future earnings capacity". As a result, children do not get proper education and stay stuck in the low-income social group for the rest of their lives.
Eliminating the Problem
The international community has been taking a variety of measures to eliminate the problem of child labor over the past decades. For instance, Article 32 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1993) recognizes " the right of the child to be protected from economic exploitation and from performing any work that is likely to be hazardous or to interfere with the child's education, or to be harmful to the child's health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development". In accordance to the Convention (1993), "States Parties shall take legislative, administrative, social and educational measures" for the purpose of eradicating children exploitation. The measures provided the establishment of minimum working age and corresponding regulation of the working hours and conditions.
In most countries, there are competent national and local authorities that wrestle with a problem of child labor. Nowadays, the improvement and reformation of the educational system is part of the assistance program for low-income segments of the population in many countries. Such programs involve identifying the impoverished segments of the people, helping them eliminate social discrimination they are constantly exposed to. The main goal of these programs is to make it possible for low-income segments of the population to receive higher income or at least fair pay. As a result, the income of people from low-income social groups would be sufficient to support their family. Consequently, their children would not be forced to work at an early age.
Measures Any Individual Can Take to Resolve the Problem
It is very important to emphasize that proper education is one of the keys to prevent and eliminate child labor exploitation. There are several reasons why compulsory education is fundamental and crucial for a future worth living. First of all, children who received basic education and professional skills have a better chance in the labor market. Secondly, they are aware of their rights, and therefore it is less likely that they will perform dangerous labor or work in hazardous conditions. In addition, the ability and opportunity to get an education can prevent the attraction and engagement of a child in a dangerous and difficult work. A well-educated young person is not likely to be engaged in labor exploitation or perform dangerous work. Now it can be seen that giving proper education to your child is one of the most effective ways to eliminate the problem of child labor.
Another thing any individual can do to help resolve the problem is being more thoughtful and attentive to children around. If you notice or guess that a child you know is involved in some type of working activity, although he/she is too young to work, do not hesitate to talk to the child. In case your concerns prove out, you should report of this fact to the competent authorities. Simply being more thoughtful may save a child's life and future.
But even if one does not have children or does not know any children around, he/she can be a part of child labor problem solving. Of course, most of us do shopping on a regular basis. But how many of us have ever thought that some of our particular shopping choices may help eliminate child labor exploitation? Let me explain how. As a customer and consumer, any individual is very important to any company's business. "Companies do not want to be associated with child labor and are sensitive to bad publicity and consumer campaigns" (qtd. in Stopchildlabour.eu). Nevertheless, many goods are still produced with the use of child labor. Although it is not always easy to find information about companies exploiting child labor, we should always be thoughtful when buying any product. Making conscious choices is another effective measure any individual can take to prevent and eliminate child labor exploitation.
Child labor has existed for centuries and it still exist. Our generation has been challenged to prevent and eliminate the problem child labor exploitation. We should realize that poverty and low income cannot be justifications for sending young children to work anymore. The character and nature of any individual is being formed while he/she is a child. Working in dangerous and hazardous conditions does not make a child any good. Only by becoming aware of the problem, being more conscious and thoughtful we will be able to conquer the problem of child labor.
1. Texts of International Labor Organization convention no. 137: Communication from the Assistant Secretary of State For Congressional Relations, transmitting the texts of International Labor Organization convention no. 137 and recommendation no. 145 concerning the social repercussions of new methods of cargo handling in docks, and convention no. 138 and recommendation no. 146 concerning the minimum age for admission to employment, pursuant to article 19 of the ILO constitution. (1975). Washington: U.S. Govt. Print. Off.
2. Convention on the Rights of the Child. (1993). New York: United Nations Children's Fund.
3. Galli, R. (2001). The economic impact of child labour. Geneva: International Institute for Labour Studies.
4. What You Can Do As a Consumer. Number of Child Laborers. (n.d.). Retrieved March 1, 2015, from http://www.stopchildlabour.eu/Stop-Childlabour/What-you-can-do/As-a-consumer
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