Child labor can be defined as any employment of children which deprives them of their childhood years and affects their mental, physical, emotional wellbeing negatively. Child labor deprives children of their basic human rights such as a right to education and denies them the right to live a dignified life and causes untold suffering . According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), over 168 million children are trapped in child labor. June 12 of every year is the worlds day against child labor. Child labor has been a rampant practice since time immemorial. Instances of child labor were particularly documented during the industrial revolution in Europe. Greedy individuals and companies have mastered the art of exploiting children from poverty stricken parts of the globe such as in Africa and Asia for cheap labor. Recently, even Apple Inc. was implicated in a scandal involving the use of children to mine some of the precious metals used in its electronics. The practice has been responsible for the exposure of children to unhealthy environments. These harmful environments have resulted in ill health, stunted growth, and death of children. In fact, according to a recent world bank report, child labor is responsible for the deaths of up to 22000 children a year. There are various forms of child labor. These include child trafficking which has become pronounced in recent years especially in Asia, slavery, sexual exploitation, forced labor, and slavery. Child labor has several negative impacts on children, and much should be done to curb this inhumane outlawed practice.
Child labor denies children their right to education. Children who are forced to drop out of school to work for some little money. Education is one of the most basic rights of children worldwide as it guarantees them a better future ahead. Children normally drop out of school to work in exchange for cash. In most cases, children first drop out of school due to poverty. Most children who are neglected and underfed are forced to drop out of schools to try and look for food elsewhere from home. They thus end up being exploited for little or no pay or just in exchange for food. Child labor affects the education of children in various ways. These include lowering the net enrollment of children in schools, affecting school attendance negatively thus leading to truancy, and very low performance due to children combining their working and reading schedules. According to UNICEF, children who drop out of school do not acquire special skills and knowledge, and this would affect them negatively lately in life . Such children are going to settle for menial and odd underpaying jobs in future, unlike their educated counterparts who study during their childhood years. Some of the continents that have high incidences of child labor cases such as the sub Saharan Africa have the highest illiteracy levels in the world. Poverty forces children to work. However, when they work, they do not get an education and are more likely to be poor later in life. This vicious cycle should be broken. Child labor is unfair to children has it has permanent and negative implications for their education. Apart from impacting on the education of children negatively, child labor also threatens to health and life of children.
The health of children involved in child labor is often placed in jeopardy. According to the International Labor Organization, more than 85 million child laborers globally work in hazardous environments . These include working in dumpsites collecting plastic bottles and recyclable metal cans and also working in factories and plantation while being exposed to toxic chemical agents due to little or no protection gear. Child laborers are also overworked . In some instances, they work for up to 18 hours a day and only manage to get four hours of sleep. This has a very negative implication on their health. Some children also work in quarries and mining sites and are exposed to cold environments, dangerous machines and risk being maimed or killed by falling objects. Children experience stunted growth due to being forced to lift heavy objects and taking poor body postures for long periods of time, especially in the construction industry. Children psychological health is also threatened due to exposure to abusive relationships with their employers or clients . Children who encounter emotional abuse while young are more likely to abuse their children emotionally later in life. Child labor causes much suffering to children. One of the most exploitative forms of child labor is child trafficking.
Child trafficking has very negative consequences for children. There has been a drastic increase in incidences of a child over the past few years. Most cases of child trafficking across the border over the past decade have happened in South East Asia especially in China and Myanmar. There are so many negative implications that result from this egregious form of child abuse. Children who are trafficked end up being alienated from their families and often face psychological challenges such as depression . They end up in servitude as slaves in the domestic household. Such children are subjected to violence and domestic abuse from time to time. A majority of female children who are trafficked always end up being sexually abused and exploited. In the process, they are subjected to sexually transmitted illnesses and unplanned pregnancies and even death in foreign lands. Children who are trafficked are very susceptible to peer influence and are more likely to abuse drugs, unlike their counterparts who are brought up in safe environments. Child trafficking is a heinous crime that should be eliminated completely. Children who are trafficked encounter evils that are mostly avoidable. Child labor is preventable and can be solved.
The egregious problem of child labor can be solved especially in our modern world. This can be done by undertaking several measures aimed at curbing child labor. The most effective measures that have been implemented to curb child labor including passing punitive legislations against those who employ child labors. Such legislations also include potential prosecution of parents or guardians who neglect their children. The problem of children dropping out of school to work in exchange for cash of favors can is one that is embroiled deeply in the vicious cycle of poverty and ignorance. Awareness should be created among people to help them realize the long term catastrophic effects of child labor on both the social, political and economic fabrics of the society. The UNICEF has also been working tirelessly to help raise the living conditions of abandoned and neglected children by adopting them in child care programs and children homes.
Education is one of the greatest assets that can be leveraged to combat child labor. Education keeps children busy and away from child labor. Provision of access to free basic education for all and making it compulsory for children to go to school can, therefore, be of great help in helping to curb child labor. Education is a preventive strategy that is utilized to overcome child labor in several ways. Working children can be reduced by implementing early child hood programs and scheduling school activities in such a way that children who are working can also get time to learn . Opportunities can also be provided to children who are working. These include setting transitional programs that can aid them in successfully going back to school without having to come back later. This includes coming up with schemes that support them financially such as donations and also getting them to access informal education. Finally, children who are at risk of dropping out of school to look for a means to support themselves due to poor economic conditions can be retained in schools can be retained by providing financial incentives and scholarships for their study. Unfair cultural practices that are likely to forced children into labor should also be outlawed.
Child labor is a challenge that will continue to plague our world unless combined human effort is undertaken to curb it by governments across the world. The change begins with you and me. People continue to under estimate the depraving habit of child labor. Unless something is done urgently to curb child labor, future generations are doomed. The future is bleak for every child who is subjected to labor today. We have tried to eliminate this disease in the past. Otherwise, there is so much work to be done to end child labor. As I finish, I encourage you to heed my call to take up arms against the unspoken suffering of children subjected to child labor. Together we can make the world a better place to live in for our children
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Faraaz Siddiqi, CHILD LABOR: ISSUES, CAUSES AND, CHILD LABOR: ISSUES, CAUSES AND, pp. 1 14[online].Available:http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.608.5028&rep=rep1&type=pdf. [Accessed october 18, 2017]
Hazan, Moshe, and Binyamin Berdugo. "Child labour, fertility, and economic growth." The Economic Journal,2002, pg.24.
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