Child labor refers to the exploitation of children through any form of work that deprives children of their childhood, interferes with their ability to attend regular school, and is mentally, physically, socially, and morally harmful. All work done by children under the age of 15 and dangerous work done by children under the age of 18 is illegal.
Child labor and exploitation are the results of many factors, including poverty, social norms condoning them, lack of decent work opportunities for adults and adolescents, migration, and emergencies. These factors are not only the cause but also a consequence of social inequities reinforced by discrimination. They earn on average a third of the adult wage. Child labor is a result of different economic and social factors. It has its roots in poverty, lack of educational and economic opportunities, high population growth rate, unemployment, uneven distribution of wealth and social customs, and disregard for child rights.
According to the latest research, 23 countries have shown a significant increase in the risk of child labor over the last year, but the issue is set to worsen in other territories over the months ahead as the economic impacts of the coronavirus take hold. Africa remains the highest-risk region, with 7 of the 10 worst-performing countries. However, millions of children worldwide face the prospect of working through their formative years, sometimes in the most hazardous occupations, such as mining, manufacturing, and agriculture. From a global perspective over 81% world’s population lives in countries with a high or extreme risk of child labor.
The children experiencing child labor cannot interact and cooperate with others and attain a real sense of identity and belonging. They often lack confidence and experience feelings of low self-esteem. Child labor impacts negatively children leaving a lifelong mark on their physical, emotional, and social development. Child labor can result in extreme bodily and mental harm, and even death. It can lead to slavery and sexual or economic exploitation. And in nearly every case, it cuts children off from schooling and health care, restricting their fundamental rights and threatening their futures.
To reduce child labor following steps should be taken:
Stakeholders must take responsibility.
Children do not work because they want to, and parents would ideally much rather see their children receive an education. Child labor is socially accepted when people see no other option but to send their children to work. Governments must abide by internationally accepted agreements, companies must employ adults instead of children, and – importantly – consumers must not buy goods produced by child labor.
Increased access to education
Removing children from child labor does not mean that they will automatically attend school. Schooling can be expensive, or of very poor quality, and so some parents think sending their children to work is the obvious alternative. Both large and smaller businesses can make their contribution by raising awareness about the importance of education in their workplaces, communities, industries, or sectors.
Provide support for children.
Children are also at greater health and safety risk in the workplace for several reasons:
Improve economic growth.
- Lack of work experience – children are less able to make informed judgments.
- Want to perform well – children are willing to go the “extra mile” without realizing the risks.
- Learn unsafe health and safety behavior from adults.
- Might not be carefully trained and supervised.
As many as 7.8 million Indian children are forced to earn a livelihood even if they also attend school. Many of these children drift away from the path of education completely and get end up in child labor. This means a country has a lack of formally educated adults who can contribute to the process of nation-building and the country’s economic growth.
Engage with the Sustainable Development Goals
We know that the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted in 2015, will only succeed if we work towards the goals together. The sub-Saharan African region is among those affected by situations of extreme poverty, state fragility, and crisis, and by natural disasters and population displacements associated with global climate change, which in turn are known to heighten the risk of child labor.
Only the new generation working alongside the government and the whole community can bring a stop to child labor. The government can assign projects to students while they are on a gap year about helping and educating poor children and their families. The community together can build associations and centers to help out families in need, so they stop sending their children to work.
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