When most people think of child labor, they immediately imagine little children working in factories or as slaves on plantations. However, while this form of child labor was prevalent in the 1800s and early 1900s, it’s now illegal in nearly every country around the world. The forms of child labor that exist today are much less harmful to children themselves and affect far fewer children, but they can still be incredibly detrimental to society as a whole. In this article, we’ll examine what child labor is and how it developed historically before examining its effects on both children and the adult workforce they will eventually enter.
What is Child Labor
The term child labor refers to work performed by children under a certain age or under specific limits set by law. The United Nations defines a child as any human being below age 18. This limit is also adopted by countries across the world. In most industrialized nations, formal work activities are prohibited for children younger than 14 or 15 years old. Laws in developing countries usually restrict employment of children below a minimum age determined on an individual basis according to physical maturity or educational achievement—often not older than 12 years old.
Where does child labor come from? The short answer is exploitation. Historically, children have been seen as a cheap source of labor that can be used to make adults richer. In ancient Rome and Greece, for example, most children were involved in some kind of work by age 7 or 8—often in trades that we would today call hazardous. Even if they were too young to do physical labor—say, bake a clay pot or tend an oven—many Roman children were put to work selling goods such as food or flowers on the streets. For all their hard work (not to mention many hours spent memorizing Latin) kids were paid just two pennies per day.
Child Labor Policy
The 1998 ILO Convention 182 on child labor establishes international law regarding acceptable conditions for work performed by children. This convention is a binding document that member countries have to follow as written. Any country can pass national laws or rules that improve upon or supersede international law. The United States has created its laws to enforce minimum age requirements for working in certain professions. Some states have additional rules in place regarding child labor that differ from federal standards. In general, regardless of where you live in America (or what type of work you do), it is against federal law for any person under age 18 to work more than 8 hours a day or 40 hours a week. It is also against state/federal law for anyone under age 16 to be employed at all.
Causes and Effects of Child Labor
Parents who earn less than two dollars a day often cannot afford to send their children to school. The International Labor Organization estimates that 235 million children are involved in child labor worldwide. About two-thirds of these children live in Asia and over one-third live in sub-Saharan Africa. In some countries, as many as 80 percent of children work instead of attending school. Factors such as poverty or high rates of unemployment can contribute to child labor rates among specific groups or communities within a country. Other causes include low levels of education among parents, conflict in areas where schools have been destroyed or are inaccessible due to violence and exploitation by individuals working for corporations or other businesses that employ children against international law.
Increase in Poverty
One of the leading causes of child labor in third-world countries is poverty. Families that do not have access to financial resources are forced to send their children out into unsafe work conditions so they can have money for food and other necessities. Many children are forced to work because their families need them to; others want a job simply because it provides them with more income than being a child in a poorer family. The International Labor Organization estimates that there are currently 152 million working children between 5-17 years old across all continents.
Limited access to standard education
Education for a large proportion of children in developing countries remains very limited. Limited access to education is an important cause of child labor, as children who drop out from school at an early age are more likely to end up working in low-skilled jobs. Additionally, most child laborers don’t receive any education at all.
Disputes and large-scale migration
According to UNICEF, approximately 250 million children work worldwide. That is nearly one-third of all children between 5 and 17 years old. Most child labor is in agriculture, mining, or construction. In rich countries, almost all child workers are working illegally; in poor countries more than half are working legally and about half illegally. In many cases, these children do not have formal contracts with their employers and work under dangerous conditions for low pay or no pay at all.
Inadequate access to best work
While you might not be able to control natural calamities like floods or earthquakes; there are quite a few calamities that humans create themselves. One such instance is child labor. Child labor can be defined as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and robs them of their dignity while they work long hours under hazardous conditions. It’s a prevalent issue all over the world and sadly a large part of the global economy.
The main cause of child labor in our country is unemployment. Children are forced to work as a result of the growing number of jobless people. Those who are not willing to work take up their children for earning a livelihood. Though the government provides several facilities but due to the unavailability of jobs most people prefer child labor instead. Working children are neglected from education which is one of the significant reasons for the decline in their performance in schools or colleges. Taking more burden on them they often face problems like health and accidents.
Insufficient awareness about the fact
A lack of awareness is one of child labor’s major causes. How can we be aware of something if we don’t know about it? Poverty is another. Many working children are unaware that what they are doing is illegal. Unfortunately, poverty combined with a lack of education makes children more vulnerable to exploitation by third parties. This type of violation is frequently referred to as forced labor because a worker may not have accepted his or her current working conditions under their own free will and consent. If someone else has forced them into taking on these unfavorable tasks, they are considered trafficked workers because they have been tricked into coming to work in another country where they will receive payment for their work far below minimum wage.