Today, child labor is the one of the biggest social issues that the modern world faces, robbing our children of their childhood and creating a future generation that will have spent their most impressionable years working when they should have been getting an education, playing and learning.
Global estimates show that in developing countries, one in six children in the age group of 5-14 years is engaged in child labor. While Africa has the highest number of working young children, approximately 215 million children around the world are engaged in some form of work, mostly exploitative and dangerous.
A Lost Childhood
There are a number of reasons why children are forced to work. In developing countries, many poverty ridden families send their children to work so that they can support the family income.
Many street children who have no guardians are forced to work to support themselves and then there are children who run away from home in hope for a better life. But in their fight for survival, these children end up losing much more than their little minds can understand.
The Right to a Carefree Childhood
Childhood is the best part of life, free of worries and ……, but for children who are forced to work, there is no childhood. A typical day in such a child’s life begins early in the morning, sometimes before dawn, and ends late at night with no time to learn or play. Many children are physically abused by their employers, scolded, beaten up and many a time left to starve.
These children do not experience the joys of childhood, as many of them live away from their parents; they miss the love and affection that every child deserves. These children are robbed of their innocence early in life and strive for survival on a daily basis.
The Right to Education
Since poverty forces parents to send their children to work, there is no time for schooling, robbing these kids of even the basic education. Although the developing countries now have many initiatives in place driving parents to send their children to school. There are nonprofit organizations, government run schools, community projects for under privileged children that strive to bring these kids to school, coercing and convincing their guardians, it is still an uphill task because the families depend on the money earned by these kids.
The Right to Play
It is not just education that underprivileged children miss when they are made to work in factories and other commercial establishments. Playing comes naturally to children but these kids do not get to play and have fun. Their days revolve around earning money for their family or pleasing their employers with close to 12 hours of gruesome labor that leaves them exhausted and
Above All, The Right to Live a Normal Life
Children who are engaged in child labor live a life that is far beyond the imagination of the privileged world. Their mental and physical development is warped, they see too much too soon, often physically and sexually abused. These children develop serious trust issues and need intensive rehabilitation to restore their faith, their confidence and their self-esteem.
Child Labor Facts
- Millions of children around the world are engaged in dangerous jobs that pose a serious hazard to their life and health. Children working in mines, factories and agriculture are exposed to dangerous chemical and machinery every day with virtually no safety measures in place.
- In developing countries, millions of children, especially girls are employed as domestic help; many go through physical and sexual abuse at the hands of their employers.
International Labor Organization reports suggest that one in every four children (aged 5-17 yrs) in sub-Saharan Africa is a child laborer.
- Almost 60% of all child laborers work in agriculture, mostly as unpaid family workers. These children are exposed to hazardous pesticides and chemicals and develop serious health issues over time.
Approximately 20% of all children engaged in child labor suffer injuries or serious illnesses owing to their unsafe work conditions.
- Almost 75 million of all child workers are below the age of 10 years and an average number of 22,000 children die every year due to accidents at the work place.
Child labor is a worldwide issue and strict laws are in place to restrict industries and commercial establishments from employing young children as workers. Yet, in developing countries, children continue to work and be exploited. Unless larger issues such as poverty and unemployment are addressed, uprooting child labor will be extremely hard.