The Problem of Child Labor

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"Please, sir," replied Oliver, "I want some more." No one will ever forget the simple plea made by the poor hungry little orphan named Oliver Twist. Nobody will be able to omit from his mind the painful blows that Oliver suffered. Nor will anyone cease to recall what it felt like to be young and helpless in a much bigger and stronger world. In an effort to bring the ostracized poverty situation of so many children to the public's attention, Charles Dickens wrote an unforgettable book to touch the hearts of millions. Whether he knew it then or not, he was also bringing a new connotation and worldwide innuendo to the term "child labor". "Child labor," is a term that will probably never be clearly defined. The World Book Encyclopedia states it to be simply "the employment of children (defined as people under the age of 18) as wage earners." There is nothing grossly inhumane in the relatively fair and articulate definition. Yet, in her Child Labor: Then and Now , Laura Greene claims it is "the abuse and misuse of children at that exploits children." Who is right? The simple fact remains that more people subconsciously associate the term "child labor" with Greene's definition. Guilt and sympathy swell up the heart, as they remember poor Oliver, and as they look for someone or some system to blame this terrible feeling on. But what the American public has got to realize is that neither guilt nor sympathy is helping anyone. Too many rational brains get wrapped up in emotion after reading those articles about the poor working children of China, or after seeing a documentary on child bondage in India. Horror and outrage cloud the logical thinking process, and all too soon you have people protesting against a certain rug c... ... middle of paper ... ...a . Chicago: World Book, Inc., 1995. Dickens, Charles. Oliver Twist . Pleasantville, NY: The World's Best Reading The Reader's Digest Association, Inc., 1987. Freedman, Russell. Kids at Work Lewis Hine and the Crusade Against Child Labor . New York: Clarion Books, 1994. Greene, Laura Offenhartz. Child Labor: Then and Now . New York: Impact Books, 1992. Hollins, Carl. "Youth Power." Maclean's 13 May 1996: 39. Laffont, Jean-Pierre. "Child Labor." (9 February 1997). Leeman, Sue. "Millions of Children Working." The Record 15 December 1996 Schanberg, Sydney H. "Six Cents an Hour." Life June 1996: 38-48. Stackhouse, John. "Real-world Solutions to Child Labor." World Press Review June 1996: 31. Winner, Langdon. "The Destruction of Childhood." Technology Review November 1996: 66.

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