The contemporary world is filled with disturbing issues – global warming, human trafficking, pandemic; however, one of the most outrageous problems to still be present is child labor. The majority of the public does not seem to acknowledge the issue, as they rarely encounter or hear of it. Nevertheless, numerous countries use child labor as a regular practice for fulfilling their economic goals due to poverty and unemployment, disregarding the impact it makes on the people involved. Thus, the construct and prevalence of child labor must be distributed among the societies to raise awareness and prevent such problems from developing further.
While the term child labor is self-explanatory, there is still a critical need to define it from a broad perspective. The International Labor Organization (2019) defines child labor as “work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential, and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development.” Such a concept not only interferes with kids’ intellectual and social development but, most importantly, damages their mental health, giving traumas or convictions that are far from ordinary.
Child labor may be identified in several different forms that range from not-hazardous minor types to life-threatening work and separation. Among the worst forms of child labor can be placed slavery, the use for prostitution or pornography, being left to fend for themselves on the streets of large cities –especially at a very early age (The International Labor Organization). Child labor may be considered based on the age, conditions of work, and hours they work. Though certain countries perceive such a concept as a standard strategy for involving children due to high levels of poverty, and lack of working-class people, therefore exposing underage people to forced labor.
Even though children from countries all over the world are engaged in work not harmful to them, it is still considered child labor. Unicef reports that in countries with a low economy, as much as 25% of children are involved in some kind of work (UNICEF). The region that has the most cases of child labor is Africa. Each area has topped the list of the worst among such constructs, with West and Central Africa leading the rate, with 31% of children involved in labor, and Sub-Saharan Africa with 29% (UNICEF). Even though child labor is under the surveillance of multiple global organizations, it is highly challenging to change the situation without altogether redefining the economics.
The biggest issue that prevents the total extinction of child labor is poverty. Nevertheless, there are multiple other causes leading to the exploitation of underage. Lack of access to free education is another global problem motivating children to work, which is highly prevalent in African countries. Today, approximately 72 million children are deprived of an opportunity to learn, majorly caused by persisting inequality and marginalization (The University of Iowa Labor Center). The lack of schooling and poor education negatively affect the social and economic development of these countries, thus, causing children to work and depriving the government of the ability to develop economically.
Evidently, those economic hardships are the significant drivers of child labor in the prevalence of countries with such an issue. Forcing child labor may not be the choice of parents but rather a necessity to keep the family fed and alive. Notwithstanding the fact that these kids are underage, with cases of 4-year-olds working in deprived conditions, adults have no other choice but to choose such living due to poverty and no access to education. The above-mentioned reasons are subjecting nearly 152 million children globally to work in prevalently hazardous conditions (“Child Labour”). Thus, people must be more mindful of the prevalence of child labor, becoming active citizens that may enact the change and help extinct this notion.
The impact of child labor on society and economies is undeniably devastating, depriving countries of economic development. More importantly, employing child labor severely affects the mental health and ability of future development among kids. The deprivation of proper housing and education subjects children to staying within their range of intelligence, relying only on education by following societal norms. A particular study investigated that subjection to child labor has consequences of impaired psychological development and antisocial behavior (Momen 5). Moreover, child labor, in many cases, results in a low level of self-esteem and future engagement in self-destructive behavior, including the intake of drugs and alcohol. Therefore, child labor affects the unstable mind of kids, subsequent in various mental and physical traumas.
To stop the vicious cycle of child labor, global organizations such as ILO and UNICEF are developing prevention strategies against the issue. UNICEF developed a five-year plan for child labor prevention in Ghana aimed at reducing the number of children engaged in labor by 10 percent (“Prevention of Child Labour”). The organization plans to enact measures that will stop the modern slavery and military recruitment of Ghana children entirely by 2025.
In other instances, the International Labor Organization has an ongoing program -the International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labor, which aims to progressively eliminate child labor. IPEC currently operates in 88 countries, being the most extensive program on terminating child labor (International Labor Organization). The initiative’s primary forms of conduct include the withdrawal of children from hazardous conditions, further providing them with educational opportunities and assistance for their families. The help consists of training and employment offers that contribute to the future economic and social development of the communities.
Not only global organizations may enact change and prevent child labor, but smaller communities may also be the mechanism to altering the history using various methods. The least people can do is spread awareness about child labor and the fact that it is highly prevalent. If one did not personally experience it, it does not mean such an issue does not exist. Educating societies is vital to the expansion of awareness regarding modern slavery, as the more people know, the more chances there are to completely stop such notion and create opportunities for education and development in countries with child labor. Therefore, there is a critical need to educate adults and impose educational programs for children for learning about global issues.
To conclude the aforementioned information, child labor is considered one of the most hazardous and critical global issues, as it relates to the personal violations of the most unprotected citizens – kids. The prevalence of child labor is mostly noticed in African countries, where children have little to no opportunities for education, therefore, being forced to work in often threatening conditions. Even though multiple international organizations are working on creating more sustainable conditions for underprivileged communities, the issue is ongoing, putting millions of children’s lives in danger. Thus, each individual must be educated on the prevalence of seriousness of the problem to catalyze the extinction of child labor, which has no place in the 21st century.
“Child Labour.” UNICEF. 2020. Web.
International Labor Organization. “About the International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC).”. Web.
International Labour Organization. “What Is Child Labour (IPEC).” , 2019. Web.
Momen, Md Nurul. “Child Labor: History, Process, and Consequences.” Encyclopedia of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, 2020, pp. 1–8. Web.
“Prevention of Child Labour.” UNICEF, 2020. Web.
The University of Iowa Labor Center. “Right to Education : Situation around the World.” Humanium. Web.
UNICEF. “Child Labour.” UNICEF Data, 2017. Web.