A child is legally defined as a human being or person who is under the age of 18, in majority’s perspective a child is someone who is not yet capable to decide on their own and still under the guidance of parents, they were supposed to enjoy their childhood and create dreams for their future. They are our younger generation who holds the future of our nation that is why we should mold them to be a better citizen, help them to build their dreams, and guide them towards their future. That is why eliminating child labor should be one of the focuses of social and economic development.
Child labor is one of the issues that are relevant in today’s world. The history of child labor started way before but only came to light during the 1700s and 1800s. In the 19th and 20th centuries, there is a huge increase in the numbers of child labor cases and most of the victims are children age 5-14. Child labor does not only exist in poor countries but almost every country in the world disregard how rich the country is. This type of issue is hard to resolve simply because it is a problem that evolves with the world. It is a continuous cycle that is hard to break and the ideas for solutions are stagnant. Strict implementation of law and cooperation from the people can be a possible solution but every action should be equipped with a good plan.
Children who are under child labor are commonly engaged with physical labor, most hazardous, that includes agriculture, mining, and factories, it is where most of them normally spent anywhere from 12-19 hours of work which is considered hazardous for the health, children don’t even spend more than 7 hours in school, even adults have an average of 10 hours in everyday basis. These children don’t even receive proper wages and often maltreated and abused while working. There are laws established to protect exploitation when it comes to working but in some parts of the world these regulations are poorly implemented and that left these children suffering.
When do we consider a child is under child labor?
We need to establish that not every child or minor who is working will be covered by the child labor law. There are certain conditions to consider that a minor is illegally working. Some exception includes children who are child artist, children who are under the age of 16 is working as a theatrical actor provided that they should have working permits, family duties, children who work inside the family’s home or engaged in household chores, supervised training, children who are working with parents or adult supervision, and works that are part of cultural practices. In other countries, underage are allowed to work as long as they are not forced into it and on condition that they follow the rule served by the government against child labor, working at a young age are viewed as a representation of independence that is why part-time jobs for teenagers are commonly seen. For an instance, it is cultural norms in Western countries for a teen to leave their home at the age of eighteen or for some are even younger because they already reached a certain age when they can be responsible for their selves. These types of conditions are mainly because of cultures. Around the globe, we do exercise different traditions and cultures, rules and values and most importantly we have different laws that are established to protect our rights.
Almost every country in the world recognized a law that will protect every laborer under their government, aside from government; there are also various organizations that aim to protect the rights of workers and laborers around the globe, including children. One of the most well-known organizations that deal with this kind of matter is the International Labor Organization; there are 187 state nations under their organization that help hand in hand in promoting social justice and recognizing human labor rights, including the protection for child laborers. Another organization that is very well-known in their advocacy for children protection and continuously helping to improve the welfare, health, and education of the children in need is UNICEF (United Nations International Children’s Emergency Funds), these organizations are creating various ways to help these children in need.
According to ILO (International Labor Organization), child labor is any work assigned to a child that is dangerous to their physical, mental, social, and moral aspect, having a job that can obstruct them in receiving education, obliging them to leave or withdraw from school at an early age, and a job that is combined with long and heavy work. The minimum age convention (C138) established by ILO is a convention that can protect against children exploitation, the convention comprises that any job that is performed by children under the age of 12, non-light work for children aged 12-14 and dangerous or hazardous work done by 15-17 years old is considered child labor, it also established national policies to eliminate child labor.
In ILO’s (International Labor Organization) current statistic update in Word Report in child labor, there are 265 million children working around the world, it is 17 percent of the world’s total numbers of children population. Based on the data gathered the region with most child labor cases is located in Sub-Saharan Africa compared to the rest of the region covered by the survey. The country with the highest rate of working ours is Pakistan, this survey covered children aged 7-14.
In UNICEF’s survey for the percentage of children aged 5-17 involved in child labor which includes the region of the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa, Eastern and Southern Africa, West Central Africa, and other least developed countries. The statistics show that the Middle East and North Africa got the least proportion while Sub-Saharan got the highest percentage in comparison to other regions included in the survey.
In connection with the assessment, there is almost an equal number of boys and girls who are involved in child labor. The conducted survey also includes the percentage of gender differences when it comes to working activities that are carried out, with girls are more likely involved in unpaid household services.
ILO’s convention 182 (C182), the convention comprises the worst form of labor for children this includes slavery and trafficking, one of the most commonly associated issues with child labor, according to Freedom United, a community that strongly supports the advocacy to end modern slavery, one in four victims of human slavery are children that mean that there are estimated ten million children around the world who are oppressed and victims of modern slavery. Convention 182 also includes debt-bondage and forced labor, two forms of abuse that are correlated; there are places where children were used to paying for family’s debt by forcing them to work and exposing them to abuse and maltreatment. If there is something that is worse than everything mentioned it is prostitution where children are sexually exploited and used for pornographic activities, another form of child labor that is stated in convention 182 is the use of children in compulsory recruitment in armed conflict. In UNICEF’s record in relation to compulsory recruitment, in 30 countries with conflicts, there are 300,000 child soldiers including children under the age of 10, these jobs are likely to harm the health, safety, and morals of the children.
Children became easy prey because they are too young to know grievances in this world and they are not properly familiarized with their rights provided by the law to protect them. Among the reasons, those who are desperate and vulnerable are most likely to be trapped with false promises of better living but instead provided with worse situations than what they have been through.
The problem with child labor does not only rely on the people who hire children to work, but also a responsibility that a parent should shoulder. Putting food on the table is not a child’s responsibility neither providing for their family. Parents should be responsible for their children and provide the best life they can live with the proper guidance towards their future. In an article published by International Labor Organization the main reason for the huge number of child labor cases is because of family difficulties most of the children cannot handle the pressure and resort to working to provide for their families, aside from this, another major reason is the inequality that they receive from the society. Economic deprivation in relation to child labor has a major impact, if only children were given enough support for their basic needs especially education there would be a huge decrease in the percentage in child labor cases.
There are various campaigns and movements to fight for children’s right to live in a safe and secure world. Supporting these campaigns will help those children who are in need, but we need a better plan to end this kind of abuse. We need to educate the children of today who are not exposed to the issue that these types of problem exist in society so that they can be fully aware and avoid situations where they can be a victim of child labor. Lack of awareness and knowledge towards this matter is also one of the contributing factors in the increase in the number of cases, some businesses are not aware of the regulations when it comes to hiring underage employees, the government should strictly implement these rules and regulations. There are various ways to help children but we need a solution that will break the cycle of child labor, a solution that has a continuous effect in society and relevant to other issues in the world, the key to that is proper education. If all children have access to proper education they can improve their judgment and avoid unwanted circumstances, education can mold their abilities, skills, and capabilities and that can provide them better opportunities in life.
In general, children who are forced, maltreated, abused, and oppressed by working are considered child labor. In most cases, child labor is a product and the creation of poverty. It is the root and cause of early withdrawal in school and the main reason why these types of issues exist and still boosting the cycle of child exploitation that breaks their grip on human rights. In certain cases due to poverty children are left with no choice but to work to provide for their family when the law is properly implemented these families will not only live in poverty but also starvation.
Childhood is one of the most important parts of human life it is when you should be enjoying life, learning things, building dreams and everything will be okay. But unfortunately, not everyone is given the same privilege. Working as defined is not a bad thing for children simply because it will be their building foundation on what will they become in the future, assigning tasks from household chores is basically teaching them responsibilities and preparing them for bigger things in life. This can be possible if everyone was given the same opportunity, in reality; there are more than what we see in the news. People nowadays normalized children who are working to provide for their family thinking that these types of circumstances are praiseworthy, who would not admire a person who at a young age is already capable to provide for a family?
We need to be fully aware that there are children out there who are continuously battling for their rights and fighting to survive.