Eliminating Child Labor in the Export Industry

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Child Labor and Sweatshops
“We must ensure that while eliminating child labor in the export industry, we are also eliminating their labor from the informal sector, which is more invisible to public scrutiny- and thus leaves the children more open to abuse and exploitation.” (“Carol Bellamy”). The topic of child labor is a global phenomenon that has millions of people heartbroken, held captive, and pleased with the work it has fulfilled. It has been around for countless years and is still occurring today. Usually, no awareness is brought to child labor. Some people just see it as a way of living. Although there are many laws against child labor, all that is physically done are three or four sentence articles in the newspaper about how it’s banned. Owners of sweatshops and billion dollar companies do not see the suffering they are putting infant workers through. Child labor negatively impacts individuals, society, and the economy due to the large productivity and cheap labor.

Although child labor does not have a select year when it began, some might say it began at the dawn of men. Children have been worked since the beginning of time and may never end in some countries due to rulers, money issues, and beliefs.

In the early 1800's, machines were starting to replace hand labor for making most manufactured items. Everywhere from Asia to North America, factories began to increase. Children began operating the power-driven machines. Mostly because children were easier and cheaper to hire than adults. Growing into the mid-1800's, child labor became a major social issue.

Children have always worked. But factories needed them more than before. Working in a factory is no walk in the park, especially for a child. A child with a factory job could easily work 12 to 18 hours a day. They could work seven days a week just to earn a dollar (“Herumin 38”). Children as early as seven years old would be forced to tend machines in spinning mills or carry heavy loads all day. The working children had no time to play or receive and education (“Herumin 41”). Under all the harsh conditions in the factories, children often became ill. Illnesses that occurred during these time periods because of child labor included: HIV/AIDS, starvation, small pox, anemia, the flu, a cold that escalated, and thousands of other reasons. Hence, significant populations of children were dying. Most of the children who were involved in child labor came from poor families. By 1810, about 200,000,000 school age children were working 50-70 hours a week. Sometimes, parents could not afford to keep up will all the expenses children came with, so, they turned them over to a factory owner or different family. These families had no mercy; they could have 11 year old boys working for 60 hours for dollars a day. Under these circumstances, children were ordered under strict rules and had to obey all the orders given to them.

Finally, people saw the cruelty that was occurring. Petitions began, companies shut down, and people started adopting the children that were going through that pain. “The English writer Charles Dickens helped publicize the evils of child labor with his novel Oliver Twist. Britain was first to pass laws regulating child labor” (“History of Child Labor”). Therefore, Britain recognized the cruelty. Overtime a series of laws shortened working hours, improved the conditions, and raised the age children could work (“History of Child Labor”). People started to get a sense of mind and child labor began to dim down in Europe.

In the United States it took many years to outlaw child labor. By 1899, a total of 28 states started ruling against child labor. “American children worked in large numbers in mines, glass factories, textiles, agriculture, canneries, home industries, and as newsboys, messengers, bootblacks, and peddlers” (“Child Labor in U.S History”). Organizations such as the National Consumers League and the National Child Labor Committee worked to...
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