When you think of child labor you may immediately think of child slaves who have to work all day in hard living conditions, but that is not the complete picture. Not all of the work that children do is bad. For example, it may well be that you have a part-time job after school, and that is fine. It becomes a problem when work can potentially be a danger. The danger can be physical, mental or social. It could also mean that you can no longer go to school because of work.
Therefore, child labor is the work that hinders the chances, the dignity and the right to education of children between the ages of 0 and 15, and also the work that is harmful to the physical and/or mental development of these children. In addition, extreme forms of (dangerous) work, done by children between the ages of 15 and 18, is also considered child labor.
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What is the problem with child labor? Child labor can create many different problems in the life of a child, such as malnutrition, mental health issues, drug addiction, but also it can violate other children’s rights, like the right to education. Let’s have a look at some facts on child labor.
These children often work in horrible and dangerous conditions. Their rights are violated daily. In some cases there is even sexual exploitation involved and this also violates the dignity and morals of a child. It is also possible that they are separated from their parents, because they have to work in a different place from where their parents live. Sometimes children are forced to work without food and very low wages which is almost the same as slavery. These children are often also victims of physical, mental, and sexual violence.
Why is child labor important? Child labor has to be stopped so that every child can have the opportunity to go to school, to play and to have the best future possible. If children are working, they cannot go to school! This means that these children will grow up to be adults without any education and not being able to read or write, which means they lack important life skills. Usually, the majority of children engage in child labor are from disadvantaged backgrounds, from minority groups, or even abducted from their families. They have no protection. In addition, their employers do whatever it is necessary to make them completely invisible, so that nobody knows or cares about them. This way they can exercise an absolute control over these children. Child labor is also an obstacle to be a child, to be able to play (which you also have the right to!) and do whatever you want.
What can you do against child labor?