Child Labor and Positive Responses to the Problem

Child Labor and Positive Responses to the Problem

Child labor is a global problem that calls for immediate interventions to safeguard the rights ofchildren. The term refers to the employment ofunder-aged children contrary to the provisions of the International Labor Organization (ILO). The primary consequence associated with child labor is thefact that it deprives children their right to primary education as it focuses on other essential aspects that improve their mental development. Besides denying children their infancy development rights, child labor exposes them to harmful working conditions that adversely impact on their physical, mental, social, and moral development.

The literature is in consensus that child labor is not only prevalent in developing countries but also common in the industrialist economies of the world. Child exploitation requiresproper interventions and programs at a local level to address it adequately. In this case, the regional approaches to resolve and mitigate the global problem are the enactment of stricter laws to protect the rights of children, creating awareness onadverse consequences of child labor, and improving access to quality and affordable education. The other interventions are imposing trade sanctions against organizations that employ the under-aged and providing incentives to encourage people to enroll their children in learning institutions rather than subjecting them to employment at an early age. A significant proportion of countries have signed the United Nation’s Conventions aimed at protecting the rights of children. The member statesare signatoriesand agree thatall their citizens below the age of 18 years are deemed as children, and, therefore, should not engage in any form of employment in the labor market.

The research by Gumus, Sevtap, and Gary (1194) bring to light reasons that explain why child labor is no longer a problem in some parts of Asia and Africa but rather a worldwide problem.The researchers assert that poverty is the primary driver for the spread of child exploitation. Also, they found that child labor is embodied in the socio-economic and cultural structures of contemporary societies. From this point, it is argued that children in developing countries are engaged in under-aged employment in a move to break the cycle of poverty in their families. A noteworthy aspect of the study is the profiles of children that work in Turkey agriculture sector.

The research is essential since it explores all elements surrounding the exploitation of the under-aged children in the selected industry and area. The researchers conducted a direct survey that involved teenagers below 18 years. Among the total participants involved in the study, 81% admitted that they are both students and wage laborers in the selected area. However, the research has weaknesses that have adverse impactson the reliability of the study. The average age ofrespondentswas 11.12 years. From this perspective, it is argued that thisage is quite low since such teens cannot offer their labor in the agriculture sector.

Creating awareness of potential threats and risks associated with child labor is a critical positive change to address the problem of child labor locally. The strategy entails educating the society that the benefits of education outweigh the underlying economic gains of child labor. In this case, teenagers are exposed to detrimental working conditions from the surrounding environmental factors. The study by Gumus, Sevtap, and Gary (1197) asserts that a substantial percentage of teenagers working in Turkey agriculture sector are exposed to harmful workingconditions. Also, they work for long hours which adversely impact on their health conditions. That said, physical, mental, and biological factors in the workplace further expose children to worse health issues that negatively affect their future life. Educating the society on these issues, therefore, is one of the interventions to save children from the harmful consequences associated with child labor. Thisglobal problem can be addressed if every nation and its societies are enlightened on the economics that underpins child labor in their countries (Basu, 84).

The formulation and implementation of stricter laws to ban various forms of child labor is an essential approach to eliminate the global issue at a national level. According toKoonar(254), the scope of child labor has dramatically changed since the parliament of Great Britain abolished the slave trade in the nineteenth century. Today, the global issue is not necessarily the coercion of under-aged children to provide their labor,but rather their involvement and exploitation in unpleasant working conditions. Accordingly, the challenge arises in assessing and categorizing whether children at family settings are engaged in exploitation for economic reasons. Precisely, it is difficult to evaluate the nature of work and evaluate whether it is a form of child labor that the government should ban. However, the United Nations and most countries of the world have long abolished slavery. The aspect implies that global governments can potentially prosecute their citizens who are engaged in the slave trade and child labor within their jurisdiction.

Koonar(256)asserts that religious bodies, international media, and charitable organizations have raised significant concerns on the existence of slavery in the contemporary world. The author further pointed out that most human rights groups have been exaggerating their claims on child labor,and, thus, causing more confusion on the laws enacted to eradicate the problem. As such, there is a need to pass comprehensive laws to ban employment of children in different industries of the economy. Statistics from differentorganizations that assist children sufferingfrom consequences of child labor have raised concerns on the effectiveness of national laws enacted to prevent exploitation of teenagers through child labor. Noteworthy, these organizations have exposed parents that facilitate the employment of their children in a move to boost family income. However, Koonar (255) refuted the reliability of the statistics since such organizations use questionable tactics besides the interests vested in the surveys. The author noted that such entities overestimate statistics on child labor reports in a move to arouse public indignation and increased revenues to finance their operations. Their interest, in this case, is to quote the highest estimate of children who are in danger of exploitation as a strategy to attract more finances from sponsors. Some of these entities are human rights groups and organizations whose aim is to uphold the rights of children in various aspects.

Stringent laws banning child labor are essential at a local level. Their enactment is astrategy to effect positive change that seeks to address the problem that is currently threatening the well-being of children in the contemporary world. Therefore, there is a need for the existence of laws and regulations that aid the identification of transactions that involve employers and under-aged workers. As such, an essential aspect is familiarizing all potential employers on the minimum legal age that allowcitizens to work. It implies that all employment contracts involving potential employees below the stipulated legal age is deemed illegal and a form of slavery in the present-day world. However, organizations tend to employ young children who are ready for cheap labor. As such, national laws need to clarify the minimum legal working age in a given jurisdiction. Accordingly, such employers tend to claim that teenagers who are not going to school for one or more reasons qualify to be their employees. From this point, it is apparent that laws that regulate employment are a powerful tool that local authorities can use to eradicate child labor. That said, such regulations ought to outline the penalty and repercussions that employers will face if they violate the law.

The issue of child labor is no longer a regional or a national problem but rather an international concern that calls for collaboration between different countries. At a local level, there is a need for governments to place trade sanctions on multinational companies that promote child labor in their jurisdiction. The industrialist countries can play critical roles in mounting pressure for other states to implement laws that protect the rights of children as far as the issue of child labor is concerned. According to Basu, Kaushik, and Zafiris (147), the world had about 186 million children under child labor in early 2000 when it was celebrating two centuries of slave trade abolition in Great Britain. In this case,1.8 million of thepopulations were prostitutes, 5.7 million under forced labor, and 0.3 million in armed conflicts. It is argued from this perspective that placing economic sanctions againstcountries and business enterprises that employ children under the age of eighteen years is a practical approach to mitigate the global problem. However, there is a difficulty in collecting data to reflect the actual situation of child labor in the present-day world. The primary constraint is the unavailability of data attributed to a close link between family work and child labor.

The introduction of the Conventions on the Rights of a Child (1989) has aided in the prevention of child exploitation for economic gains. Besides this law, the precise data held by global institutions such as the World Bank, International Labor Organization (ILO), and the United Nations have shed more light on the perspective of child labor in the twenty-first century. The recent statistics indicate that the situation in the 1990s was not much better compared to the extent of child labor during the era of the Industrial Revolution. A systematic review by Basu, Kaushik, and Zafiris (148) assert that there is evidence to support the argument that a substantial proportion of under-aged children in Africa and some parts of Asia are employed. In this case, such a group of children works for long hours in factories besides being exposed to hazardous conditions in poorly lit shades. The authors are in consensus that imposing trade sanctions against perpetrators of child labor at a local level is an appropriate policy intervention to prevent the spread of the global problem of the present times.

The provision of affordable education is also an essential strategy that world governments should focus on as a technique to prevent the spread of child labor. The approach provides incentives that will attract parents toenroll their children in schools of their choice conveniently. According to Roberts (663), several countries in the Middle East are still struggling with the problem of child labor even after the abolition of forced labor in Britain. The authors noted that the policy on compulsory free education has aided in the elimination of child labor in countries such as India, Brazil, and China. The authors pointed out that the exploitation of children in Myanmar had remained a challenge in the Southeast Asia country since the Industrial Revolution when it served as a British colony. The present-day situation explains reasons as to why Myanmar has been facing criticism from the international community and foreign nations for doing less to combat child labor. However, Myanmar ratified the provisions of ILO in 2013 in a move to protect their children from working in hazardous conditions. Dottridge (256) further adds that child labor is a form of modernslavery that subject children in South Asian countries to forced labor as families struggle to repay their creditors.


Child labor has remained a worldwide problem even after Great Britain passed the Factory Act two centuries ago. The International Labor Organization and the United Nations have initiated collaborative efforts in a move to eradicate exploitation of children through exposure to unnecessary work (Noguchi, 358). Despite the initiation of interventions to root out the problem, statistics show that many teenagers are still engaged in prostitution, armed conflicts, and forced labor. Currently, child labor is perceived as the present-times form of slavery that negatively affects the well-being of children. The interventions to effect positive change and eliminate child labor at a local level are necessary. Some of these strategies are the implementation of compulsory free education and providing incentives to motivate children to go to school. Also, the formulation of stringent laws and imposition of trade sanctions on transnationals and countries thathave not done much to eradicate child labor play essential roles in addressing the issue.


Works Cited

Basu, Kaushik, and ZafirisTzannatos. “The Global Child Labor Problem: What do we know and

What can we do?” The World Bank economic review 17.2 (2003): 147-173.

Basu, Kaushik. “The economics of child labor.” Scientific American 289.4 (2003): 84-91.

Dottridge, Mike. “Contemporary Child Slavery.” Child Slaves in the Modern World (2011): 254-


Gumus, SevtapGuler, and Gary Wingenbach. “The child labor problem in Turkish agriculture:

What can we do?” Social Indicators Research 127.3 (2016): 1193-1215.

Koonar, Catherine Irene. Slavery by a New Name: Children, Childhood and Forced Labor in

            Colonial Ghana, 1855-1914. Diss. Carleton University, 2014.

Noguchi, Yoshie. “ILO Convention No. 182 on the worst forms of child labor and the

Convention on the Rights of the Child.” International Journal of Children’s Rights 10

(2002): 355-369.

Roberts, Jack W. “Comparative Approaches to Myanmar’s Child Labor Epidemic: The Role of

Compulsory Education.” Emory Int’l L. Rev. 30 (2015): 661.

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