Finding A Solution to Child Labor

According to the United Nations, child labor is “any work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and which is harmful to their physical, moral and mental development.” Around the world, almost 168 million children are working full-time jobs, with 70% working in agriculture and the remaining 30% in mining. Child labor negatively affects the physical and mental growth in children and is morally damaging. The time that children spend working is less time spent studying, playing or exploring their creativity. Children may be able to get a solid education and still have time for outside work. Allowing children to also get an education can break the cycle of poverty, allowing the next generation to not have to work at all.

A multitude of children working are under the age of 16 and do not receive education due to the lack of time and/or opportunity. According to Komal Ganotra, the Director of Policy, Research and Advocacy for Child Rights and You in India, 10 million children in India are employed and are between the ages of 5 and 14. Of this, 5.2 million do not attend a school, 65% of children work for five to eight hours a day and close to 70% of these children work for six to seven days per week. Ganotra also found that, in countries such as India, 40-55% of parents feel that having at least one working child is a necessary source of income for their family. Over 50% of families feel that a child’s education distances them from regular jobs and 75% of households feel that education doesn’t give effective, necessary and practical life skills.

Solving poverty is the solution to completely stopping child labor. Clearly, ending poverty is not something that is going to be achieved easily, but it is assisted by making high-quality, free education mandatory for children. Along with strictly enforced labor laws, child labor can be regulated so that it is safe for those who do need it. If employers know the laws for hiring children under 18, the chance of accidentally hiring underage children for a dangerous or risky job is greatly reduced. It also allows children to know what the regulations are and what they can do within the bounds of the law. We must keep the rules and regulations for child labor direct and unquestionable, leaving no room for error.

Education is also a vital part of the overall solution. With the right tools and opportunities, children are able to put to use the curiosity and talent that they already have. Ganotra said, “Education is not a mere process, it has the potential to awaken children from the very core of their being, enabling them to unlock and develop the power within. Given the right environment and opportunities to study, education enables children to develop the unique inherent qualities they had possessed within themselves.” It is necessary to allow work for minors, who are saving up for school or a car, or are trying to help their families make ends meet. Allowing a few extra hours of labor per week would do this. Limiting the hours they are allowed to work during a school week will allow time for the necessary schooling, homework and extracurriculars while still enabling them to work.

Children are the future and they should be treated as such, with an equal opportunity to go to school and receive a quality education. This should not be harmful or disrupt critical learning.