Child Labor FAST Facts (for full article)
218 million children aged 5 - 17 are involved in child labor worldwide.
Why child labor perpetuates poverty:
1. It is a short-term fix for parents to send their children to work.
If parents have jobs, they are paid so little that they feel their children must work in order for the family to survive. However, it is child labor that actually brings down the overall average wages.
2. Parents themselves do not have jobs.
Janice Bellace observed that “Any country that has high levels of child labor also has high adult unemployment.” The reason is simple - children provide cheap labor. Why would a company employ an adult who costs more when they can put children to work and pay them substantially less?
3. People and governments believe that child labor is necessary for the survival of families.
People from the higher castes in India believe that children working to help provide for their families is actually a benefit. Many people I spoke to about the issue of child labor think they are doing a good thing by employing children to work in their homes as maids or in their businesses.
4. There is an abundance of jobs for unskilled labor and jobs requiring smaller physical features (size, agility, etc.).
Mines seek children because of their small size and factories favor employing children for shoe-making, sewing and rug weaving due to their small fingers. Young children working a full day are more likely to get hurt or killed because their attention spans are shorter and their minds wander; consequently, accidents occur.
“Child labour may be seen as a short-term solution to economic hardship, but it is actually a cause of poverty.” -- Jo Becker, Children’s Rights Advocacy Director, Human Rights Watch
What is child labour (IJS)
Considerable differences exist between the many kinds of work children do. Some are difficult and demanding, others are more hazardous and even morally reprehensible. Children carry out a very wide range of tasks and activities when they work.
Defining child labour
Not all work done by children should be classified as child labour that is to be targeted for elimination. Children’s or adolescents’ participation in work that does not affect their health and personal development or interfere with their schooling, is generally regarded as being something positive. This includes activities such as helping their parents around the home, assisting in a family business or earning pocket money outside school hours and during school holidays. These kinds of activities contribute to children’s development and to the welfare of their families; they provide them with skills and experience, and help to prepare them to be productive members of society during their adult life.
The term “child labour” is often defined as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development.
It refers to work that:
Child labour distribution by branch of economic activity
The agriculture sector comprises activities in agriculture, hunting forestry, and fishing.
The industry sector includes mining and quarrying, manufacturing, construction, and public utilities (electricity, gas and water).
The services sector consists of wholesale and retail trade; restaurants and hotels; transport, storage, and communications; finance, insurance, real-estate, and business services; and community as well as social personal services. The worst forms of child labour
Whilst child labour takes many different forms, a priority is to eliminate without delay the worst forms of child labour as defined by Article 3 of ILO Convention No. 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.
Labour that jeopardises the physical, mental or moral well-being of a child, either because of its nature or because of the conditions in which it is carried out, is known as “hazardous work”.
International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC)