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Child Labor - Economic Exploitation of Children

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Child Labor - Economic Exploitation of Children

Child labor is a serious problem in many parts of the world, especially in developing countries. It has been linked to many nations and cultures for hundreds of years. Child labor is defined by Article 32 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child: as any economic exploitation or work that is likely to be hazardous or interferes with the child’s education, or is harmful to the child’s health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral, or social development. Labor is defined as a difficult, or fatiguing mental and/or physical work.

It wasn’t until the Industrial Revolution that it became the problem it is today. With the arrival of the factory system in the 18th century, during the 1700s, children as young as five were being used as workers in England. During this period, a law called the English Poor Act gave the government the responsibility to care for children that had no parents or whose parents were too poor to care for them. Under this law, the government would take these “pauper children” and place them in jobs where they could become apprentices and learn a trade.

The law was not usually affective because when children were handed over to the factory owners and usually became slaves. This is a violation of the “Human Rights Document: Universal Declaration of Human Rights” in article 4, which states: no one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms. Children were used to tend to machines in factories and many worked in the dark, damp coalmines, carrying coal on their backs up ladders. Many children would work 10 to 15 hour days. This is a violation of the “Human Rights Document” in article 24, which states: everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay. They were forced to work in dangerous and unhealthy conditions, and their wages were incredibly small. There are many reasons why these children work; poverty, lack of education, lack of knowledge of one’s rights, and cultural tradition are all contributing factors. These children are often deprived and mistreated. They may get beaten or severely punished for making even the slightest mistake. This is another violation of the “Human Rights Document” in article 1, which states: all human beings are bor...

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...the child labor; they don’t have any legal power. The trade unions are weak and don’t have the funds to do the job. Over several years the proposed law, now known as the Child Labor Deterrence Act, has been reintroduced along with a companion bill in the House. However, no vote has been taken on the House bill and the proposal was still pending at the beginning of 1998.

Some U.S. cities are passing laws to ensure that the goods they purchase are not made in foreign or domestic sweatshops. In 1992, the organization established the International Program on the Elimination of Child Labor (IPEC), which has implemented more than 600 action programs in 27 countries. The goal of these programs is to prevent and fight child labor by helping children withdraw from work in selected villages, provide support services for the children and their families, and change community attitudes towards child labor.

Putting an end to child labor requires changes on many fronts, especially on attitudes about child labor and the world’s poor. To help bring about changes in attitudes, activists in many countries are raising awareness that child labor violates fundamental human rights.
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