Not All Children Spend Their Time Behind a Screen, Some Spend Their Time Working

In the developed continents such as Europe or North America, typical children at the age of 8 follow the routine of going to school in the morning, then leave in the afternoon to finish their day doing extracurricular activities, playing outside if the weather allows it or stay at home spending time with their family or find occupations such as playing video games or watching movies.

This daily routine should applied to all children around the world, unfortunately the reality is that it is not. In more poor and developing countries (Asia and Africa), children follow a daily routine of working, working, and working.

The article published by the New York Times in May 2016 is about Indonesian children working for tobacco companies who are being exposed to nicotine and pesticides, and as a result, suffer from nausea, vomitting, headaches, etc. The government and industries agreed to make an effort, but the results are still insignificant right now.

Wanting to know more about child labor, I did some research and found this very intersting working paper that explains in details where child labor is most common, what are the reasons that compell children to work, the conditions the children undergo and the aftermath, but as well as why getting rid of child labor is a lot more complicated than it looks like.

The two sources connect to each other as the working paper gives a great background to the newspaper article. The paper talks about how the majority of child employment is found in Asia, why children are forced to work, and the deplorable conditions these young individuals have to deal with at work. It also points out the fact that it is challenging to discern, and therefore solve, the issue of child labor because of the lack of international agreement on the definition of child labor, and that countries have different age restriction for work. These points are also present in the article which indicates a complementarity between these two sources.

The article and the working paper both raise the issue regarding the exploitation of children starting at the very young age of 8 to do labor that is ethically wrong and causes serious health problems to them. However, the problem isn’t limited to that only, as it is also how education is managed in developing countries, which results into pushing children to go to work, likewise to help the parents financially.

Industrialization is inevitably linked to the creation of child labor, as it marked the beginning of large-scale industries, which developed long work days, low wage, harsh working conditions, etc. Child labor is just another bad outcome of industrialization, and is beneficial for industries because children get paid less than adults. We are all happy to get brand new products from the mailbox such as electronic devices, but we have to think about the people (children?) who are satisfying our needs and if they are supposed to fulfill that need instead of doing something better for themselves.


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