What Is Child Labor?

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Published: 16th August 2008
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Child Labor is a commonly heard term these days. Varying definitions of the term are made by international organizations, non-governmental organizations and trade unions.

According to the international conventions anyone who is below the age of 18 is considered a child but the figure may vary from one country to another depending on government policies.

Child labor means 'any kind of work for children that harms them or exploits them in some way may it be physically, mentally, morally or by depriving a child of education'. In other words child labor is 'the employment of children under a certain age which is determined by the law or custom'. Any such practice is considered as exploitative by many countries world wide.

Child labor is very common in places like factories, mining, prostitution, quarrying, agriculture etc. Apart from these there are some children who work as tourist guides and also as waiters in many different restaurants. Still some others are forced to work as beggars or assembling boxes, polishing shoes, cleaning, working in tobacco related factories.

There exist two different schools of thought on this too. There are some who do not consider this as exploitation as long as the child is paid well. There is the other clan which considers their working itself as exploitation.

Not all work is considered bad for children. The most widely rejected form of child labor includes the military use of the children and also child prostitution. There are some works which are less controversial and also easily accepted by society like child actors, child singers, agricultural work outside of the school year or owning a business which is run apart from the school hours.

According to UNICEF, a staggering number of 250 million children aged 2 to 17 are subjected to child labor worldwide. Child labor is considered bad for the personal growth of a child since education is a primary right of any child so that he may shape his future.

In many developed countries, child labor of any kind is prohibited and considered inappropriate or exploitative. The minimum age depends on the country and its child labor laws. In the United States, the set minimum age to work in any establishment without parents consent and restrictions is at an age of 16. In developing countries like India and Bangladesh the law states child labor under the age of 14 is prohibited.

However, this law is continuously been ignored. Children as young as 11 years go to work for almost 20 hours a day and in some cases, even more, making goods for foreign companies at a wages of 6 and half cents per item or less. Some poor families often rely on their children for survival and in many cases the child is the only source of income. Such situations often go unnoticed or get hidden away because of s not being in the industrial sector which is considered to be the biggest child exploiter.

The United Nations and the International Labor Organization consider any type of child labor as exploitative. According to them, the child has a certain right, and the right states that, "the child is to be protected from any economic exploitation and from performing any kind of work that is hazardous or which will interfere with the child's education, or which is harmful to the child's health be it physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development".

Child labour is a serious crime that needs to be violated. Remember the facts about animals and don't treat children as animals. They are humans and have a heart that cries. The future of every child whether rich or poor depends on good parenting .

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