Child Labor, a Global Problem with Local Causes
Christopher King, Debra Hang - Aguayo, India Williams
University of Phoenix
It is hard to imagine that in 2009 that child labor still exists. However, it is true that children all over the world are waking up and going to work instead of going to school. As the gap between the rich and poor grows, more children will be forced to give up school for work. Is there an answer to this problem that will lead to the elimination of the dilemma? Has the practice been in place for so long that it has become so accepted that the there is no viable solution? Is it possible to protect the children of the world by speaking up for those who are unable to speak for themselves?
Within the exploration of the global cruelty of child labor, this paper will look at the nature of societies that breed the problem. In addition, there will be a focus on the social issues that lead to that society’s rationalization of this gross violation of children's rights. Lastly, we will examine some of the global initiatives and interventions that have been established to combat child labor. The Child Labor Education Project outlines the characteristics of child labor as including at least one of the following: • Violates a nation’s minimum age laws
• Threatens children’s physical, mental, or emotional well-being • Involves intolerable abuse, such as child slavery, child trafficking, debt bondage, forced labor, or illicit activities • Prevents children from going to school
• Uses children to undermine labor standards
Child labor is found worldwide in industries such as agriculture, manufacturing, mining, domestic service, hotels and restaurants, even the atrocities of drug trafficking and prostitution. Child labor has existed in many nations for centuries, including the United States until the early 1900s. In spite of a near universal understanding of labor standards throughout the world, there are many obstacles that hinder the enforcement of humane labor standards, such as the strains caused by a growing global economy, global competition and free trade (Child Labor Public Education Project). When looking into the nature of societies that perpetuate child labor, it has been found that the roots of the problem are often the same regardless of the country, race or religious background of those who lose their childhood to forced labor. Furthermore, the family practice of instilling traditional skills in their children inevitably leads to the trap of child labor, as they will never have the opportunity to learn anything else (Causes of Child Labour). The industrial revolution magnified circumstances that encouraged child labor globally. As nations around the world continue to struggle on a daily basis just to survive, it remains an easy answer to have their children work to bring home even a tiny sum of money to keep food on the table. Illiterate parents who are themselves uneducated are unable to come to the realization of the damage they are causing by requiring their small children to work. In addition, the idea that these children are forced to work instead of going to school causes an additional lack of education for the child, which ultimately perpetuates the problem from generation to generation. Simply put, the truths about the benefits of education are indistinguishable to the parents who are untrained themselves. Ultimately, the number of youth who are affected by child labor is immense. As poverty stricken (sic) countries continue to fight the social issues confronting them and struggle to survive, child labor will persist. According to UNICEF, approximately 158 million children (one in six children in the world) between the ages of five and 14 are victims of child labor. Millions of these children are exposed to hazardous conditions like working in mines, working with pesticides and chemicals in agricultural work, and working with...
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