History of Child Labor

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Child labor has existed in almost every society throughout history, and although most nations have rid of this abusive practice, it still exists in many poor, third-world countries today. Child labor is the misuse and exploitation of children at work. Some children labor under harsh conditions, such as working long hours, receiving low to no wages, and being placed in unsafe environments. Today no society advocates child labor, however, it continues and according to the United Nations is a “growing evil” (Greene 9). Child labor not only prevents children from receiving an education, but the responsibility of supporting a family can cause long-term psychological and physical effects. Although many western activists are taking steps to regulate child labor, competition on the world market is slowing the reform process.
After the industrial revolution, Children began to work outside of the home and leave the protection of their families to work in mines and factories. Child labor takes place because of a combination of social and economic factors. Dabeida Agramonte suggests the following are possible explanations for the occurrence of child labor:
“Factors like poverty, lack of employment and low household income; lack of access to a quality education, the lack of alternative recreational spaces in communities and the existence of broken families. Also cultural values linked to a perception of the formative value of work, and the generational transition from parents to children.” (Carrasco 1)
Many children are forced to work because their parents had also been victims of child labor and it is the only life they know. Child laborers often dream of going to school and becoming a doctor or a lawyer, but instead are obligated to wor...

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... a ten percent decrease in child labor around the world but progress slowed between 2004 and 2008 when there was only a three percent decrease in child labor around the globe. If the goal of ending child labor in the next two years is going to be accomplished, efforts must be increased. Ann M. Veneman encourages international organizations to work together to combat child labor. “Combating child labor requires political leadership and broad-based partnerships. Parents, community leaders, the private sector and governments – must all take responsibility to ensure that children are not exploited in the workplace” (“Child Labour robs children…” 1). The International Labor Organization is widely recognized as the UN agency which leads the fight against child labor; although, other agencies such as UNICEF are becoming an increasing part of the regulation of child labor.

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