With their delicate and small hands, they start an arduous and never ending day, a daily ordeal that they have to go through, in order to survive in their homes. Child labor is an activity that undermines children’s physical development and interferes with their school schedule or forces them to leave school early because they have no time for their studies. It is a problem worldwide, but it particularly affects children in developing countries. Child labor is characterized by full-time work at too early of an age, and too many hours spent working.
The work often exerts undue physical, social, or psychological stress, hampers access to education, and may be detrimental to social and psychological development. The ILO’s Statistical Information and Monitoring Program on Child Labor recently estimated that 211 million children, or 18 % of children aged 5-14, are economically active worldwide. 60% of these working children live in Asia, and 23% live in sub-Saharan Africa. Most economically active children are employed in agriculture. For example, in Nepal, 85% of economically active children are in agriculture. In Cambodia, the rate is 73% while in Morocco it is 84%.
Children workers often have extremely difficult working conditions. Having very long work duration from 12 to 16 hours a day, injuries from machinery, health problems from chemical poisonings, and no access to drinking water or toilet blocks. Children who have worked in these conditions suffer from life-long disabilities and die at younger ages. This kind of child labor is of course absolutely immoral.
An estimated 6 million work-related injuries occur among children annually, which results in 2.5 million disabilities and 32,000 fatalities every year. In developing countries, children often work under hazardous conditions in the manufacturing and agricultural sectors. For these children, crushing accidents, amputations, and fractures account for 10% of all work-related injuries. Working children are not only at risk of physical injury, but are vulnerable to workplace toxins and chemical hazards as well.
Specific hazards vary according to the industry type. Child workers may be exposed to high temperatures, and a high risk of accidents caused by cuts and burns if they work in the brassware and glass-bangle industry. Children who work in matches and firebox shops may be exposed to chemical hazards and a risk of fire and explosion. Children who works in the carpet industry are exposed to repetitive movements, chemical hazards, inhalation of wool dust contaminated with biological agents, and inadequate working postures. Lastly, children who work in the shoe industry are often exposed to glue. Children at this young age shouldn’t be doing such dangerous stuff but rather having their childhood.
Child labor not only negatively affects a child’s health, but it also negatively impacts his or her ability to receive schooling and perform academically. When children are forced by their families to work, they no longer have the time to attend school. Though there are a significant number of children who go to school and work, the work may negatively impact their studies. Data from 12 Latin American countries find that third and fourth graders who attend school and never conduct market or domestic work perform 28% better on mathematics tests and 19% better on language tests than children who both attend school and work.
Child labor is also problematic because it creates a vicious cycle. For example, one man had worked in pottery factories since childhood and was blinded as a result. Thus, one of his sons was then forced at the age of 8 to provide for the family and engage in full-time work. Based on enrollment data, about 72 million children of primary school age in the developing world were not in school in 2005
On the other hand, It’s a common picture that international media and forums always bring out the negative sides of child labor. Therefore general people endure extremely bad perception regarding this issue and they are asking to ban child labor completely. But amusingly there are huge amount of people in developing countries who support child labor.
Child labor is a very cruel, yet very common scenario in poor countries. Parents in third world country consider their children as one of the reliable source of income. When rich society faces this cruel reality they simply raise their voice and go against it without any second thought. But believe me, income from children can be huge supportive for poor families. In developing countries family income always has been below poverty level and lifestyle remained worst and uncomfortable. Moreover in most cases weak or sick elder members cannot afford medication, accommodation, food and all other basic human needs. To ease the situation some income from mature children can have a big impact on family. At least minimum life style can be ensured with that income.
In conclusion, I think child labor should be taken more seriously and take actions, not by banning child labor but slowly giving them more opportunity to have better jobs or even more provide them with education.