I assume most of us experienced a somewhat carefree childhood. Maybe you had to put your plate into the dishwasher or clean your room once in a while. However, besides that many had the opportunity to play with their new toys or go outside and have fun with their friends. Now imagine your toys being replaced with sharp tools and having to work 12-16 hours daily inside a factory. Also add being abused by your employers, carrying heavy loads and having to breath in toxic chemicals every single day. This is the reality of millions of children and 22 000 of those are even killed at their workplace every year according to the International Labor Organization. Child labor is a major issue that has to stop.
To begin with, children who are forced to perform unhealthy and dangerous work miss out on valuable education. By not going to school they do not develop their writing and reading skills and also the importance of socializing with other kids. Now, I do not think that any parents wish for their child to have to work but most are simply too poor to send their kids to school. Even if some developing countries offer free education other expenses as uniforms, textbooks and lunches are often forgotten. The lack of education lead to children having limited options in the labor market and in most cases they have to settle for a low paid job just like their parents. This issue travels down generations and is a cycle very hard to break.
Further, child labor also prevents a society to flourish by continuing poverty. When you are in such a bad economic situation, especially as a parent, you mostly focus on surviving one day at a time. There might not be any other solution than sending your kids into child labor just to be able to bring enough food to the table. I think it is hard to comprehend the situation and understand their point of view when living in Sweden. But when everyday is a struggle you focus less on the future since you do not even know if you will be alive by then. That way many may not realise the consequences that are passed onto their kids and that it holds back the whole development of a country.
Lastly, child labor brings remarkable danger to the mental and physical health of a child. It is not fair for a child to carry the responsibility of an adult and at the same time not having their safety considered. The fact that children should be protected from work that is harmful and interfering with their education is clearly stated in the Convention on the Rights of a Child. Still, millions may live with traumatic memories for the rest of their lives and also develop severe medical conditions in their workplace. I believe a child’s biggest concern should be to get to school on time and not worrying about surviving a day at work.
Now there are still some people who are against the banning of child labor. They refer to how child labor in India increased by 12,5% after being banned. The issue with this study is that it only measured the immediate impacts of the ban without taking the long-term benefits into consideration. Because it does take time for a society to adjust and change. Therefore I still believe that banning child labor would be beneficial for the economic growth by the increase of educated people. This would not only provide sustainable jobs but also benefit the problem with low political participation and inequality that many developing countries are facing today.
In conclusion, we have to stop children being deprived of their childhood. Children cannot work in unhealthy and unsafe environments all day, never get the chance to go to school and have no hope for the future. It is not fair for anyone to be exploited and overworked especially not for children. If nothing changes now, the next generation will also have to follow their parents footsteps. Child labor cannot be postponed anymore, it has to stop and the key is education.