“Our greatest natural resource is the minds of our children.” Walt Disney says. He is definitely right. Because of their special, unique and vulnerable position, children are denied the basic working rights and wages which are given to adults. They are in the age of receiving education, getting protection and needing an all-around development. There is no reason for them to be employed as workers against laws and morals. So the statement that there are no circumstances under which child labor can ever be considered acceptable is right. We can never allow employers to hire children with any excuse. But ideals are often not the facts. The fact is children are most often hired in the informal and unregulated areas of the global economy, for example in agriculture, and as a result they become easy targets for abuse, intimidation and sexual exploitation. Nevertheless, improving access to education and attacking poverty head-on by solving the challenges children face are not easy to be done. There is still a long way to go. What should we do is to help them in their struggle.
Review of Relevant Materials
Though definitions vary, child labour means work that is performed by children under the age of 15 (14 to 16 in different countries) which restricts or damages a child’s physical, emotional, intellectual, social or spiritual growth.
“It was like a prison, we were locked inside. We worked from 5 a.m. until midnight making carpets and we slept among the machines.” It is from a child labor called Kumar.
The following are some facts I have collected:
Globally, 218 million children are child labourers;
126 million of these children are engaged in hazardous work;
73 million working children are less than 10 years old;
Every year, 22,000 children die in work-related accidents;
The largest number of working children-122 million-are in the Asia-Pacific region.
About 158 million children aged 5-14 are engaged in child labour – one in six children in the world. Millions of children are employed in hazardous situations such as working in mines, working with chemicals and pesticides in agriculture or working with dangerous machinery. They are everywhere but invisible, toiling as domestic servants in homes, labouring behind the walls of workshops, hidden from view in plantations.
In many countries children lives are troubled by armed conflict, child labour, sexual exploitation and other human rights violations. Especially, children living in the countries have fewer opportunities to get good quality education.Child labour keeps children out of education and is a main obstacle to development. To make the anti child labour law implement, poverty and unemployment need to be eradicated. Many middle and upper class families are quite willing to hire young boys and girls to help them with household chores. The middle class family feels by hiring a child below 14 years they are helping poor people to increase their earnings for making a living. That is the moral part of not employing child labor. Some people may believe that if a child laboror is not forced to work, it is acceptable to have those special child labor. For my part, it is not justified because this action just arouses the pride and arrogance of the rich, neglecting the real need of a child or teenager.
There are laws regulating working order and forbidding child labor. Like the Child labor law, enacted by the Federal Government, restricts when children can work and what jobs they can do. Teenagers hired for nonagricultural employment must be at least fourteen. Sixteen and seventeen may be employed for unlimited hours in any occupation other than those declared hazardous by the Secretary of Labor. During the school year, hours are limited to 3 hours a day and 18 hours a week. On days when there’s no school and in the summer, working hours increase to 8 hours a day and 40 hours a week. There are limits on when children can work, too – no later than 7 p.m. during the school year and no later than 9 p.m. between June 1 and Labor Day. Fourteen- and fifteen- year-olds may be employed in restaurants and quick-service establishments outside school hours in a variety of jobs for limited periods of time and under specified conditions. In general, children of any age are permitted to work for businesses entirely owned by their parents, except those under 16 may not be employed in mining or manufacturing and no one under 18 may be employed in any occupation the Secretary of Labor has declared to be hazardous.
By the mid 1990s, vase numbers of children below the age of 14 were working full-time. Responding to this, the ILO began to draft a new convention. This involved gaining international agreement on the circumstances under which children of any age should not be working, as well as identifying the steps to eradicate what was called the “worst forms” of child labor.
While child labour takes various forms, a priority is to eliminate without delay the worst forms of child labor as defined by Article 3 of ILO Convention 182:
(a) all forms of slavery or practices similar to slavery, such as the sale and trafficking of children, debt bondage and serfdom and forced or compulsory labour, including forced or compulsory recruitment of children for use in armed conflict;
(b) the use, procuring or offering of a child for prostitution, for the production of pornography or for pornographic performances;
(c) the use, procuring or offering of a child for illicit activities, in particular for the production and trafficking of drugs as defined in the relevant international treaties;
(d) work which, by its nature or the circumstances in which it is carried out, is likely to harm the health, safety or morals of children.
These four forms are called the “worst forms” urgent to be eliminated. Under these circumstances child labor should never be employed.
“I am the only working child in the family. My elder brother can’t work since he goes to school full time. It was my mother who asked me to work, saying that I would help the family if I worked instead of staying home. So my father gave me the money to buy a shoe shining box. I worked as a shoe shiner for three years, then shifted to washing cars.” Poverty, family breakdown, AIDS, attitudes to girls, discrimination against minority groups, the demand etc. all of these are pushing children to work, which make for another reason why child labor should be eliminated: they are forced workers. That is another evidence why child labor should not be employed.
“… to enable families living in poverty to survive, a quarter of a billion children aged 14 and under, both in and out of school, now work, often in hazardous or unhealthy conditions. … Having approved the International Labor Organization convention on the worst form of child labor, Member States must now implement it fully.” Under no circumstances child labor should be allowed, given the facts both concerning children’s special position and outer climate. What should we keep in mind is to work on the well-being of society, and at the same time enforce the implementation of child labor laws and regulations.