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The act of children actively participating in the business world is under the definition of child labour. Child labour involves any work that is harmful to children in any aspect that is considered illegal through legislation. From the International Labor Organisation, it is estimated that 215 million children work under unacceptable conditions. These children are between the ages of five and seventeen. Most industries involving child labour are agriculture, hunting, forestry and fishing. Child labour has been an international issue and one of the countries with the highest rate of child labour is India. Not one solution can resolve the complex problem of child labour, especially in India, but many solutions by various specific groups including the government, families and consumers are required. Who are these people? What are their roles?
Firstly, the causes as to why child labour still exists and is prominent are observed. There are many causes as to why child labour still occurs. In most cases, poverty is a significant issue and cause of child labour. The poverty rate is usually high in most areas where child labour is prominent. Some parents simply cannot afford to live solely from their work. Some are forced or required to have their children work to help with the financial issues. Thus, children who experience child labour are relied on by their parents to work in order to help their financial situation. A high rate of unemployment also ties in with the cause of child labour. Parents rely on children to work as they are in a situation where there is a limited source of income.
In many cases, this practice negatively impacts the children that are involved in regards to their physical, mental and social development. The physical impact may be health issues. The strain from the workload of labour may cause physical pain. This is harmful especially when the child is still growing. The long hours and the amount of work being done may trigger fatigue. This is unhealthy, especially for a child where energy is essential for daily activities.
If there is not enough energy and the child experiences fatigue, this may lead to a decrease in learning retention. This falls under the category of mental issues such as a disruption in developing necessary cognitive skills . In addition to fatigue, stress is most likely encountered. For example, stress may be from the struggle of balance between work and school. If the child is obligated to work for several hours throughout the week, this may cause a strain on time for education. Child labour requires children to have to compensate time for education on their own at a young age.
In regards to education, child labour can have a serious impact. There are consequences for children who put aside school for work. For example, one’s attendance may be greatly impacted. Children may be required to work in order to support their family and this may lead to a decrease in attendance at school. This decrease in attendance is likely to have a negative cascading effect. Work can impact their grades, their learning skills, and their learning retention as stated previously.
Although there are some laws and regulation in regards to child labour in India, “India is home to the largest number of working children in the world, with between 40 and 115 million child workers aged 5–14 years.” The magnitude of this problem is that some of the workplaces that involve child labour have harsh or harmful conditions. This includes harsh chemicals or unsafe regulation. Hazardous workplace conditions are noted to be in many working industries such as agriculture, construction, manufacturing, restaurants, etc. In India, it is observed that most of the child labour activities occur in fields. Hazards may include pesticides, machinery, dangerous insects, etc. Statistically from the International Labor Organisation, it is declared that around 115 million children worldwide are working in dangerous conditions. “Children reported exposure to pesticides that were sprayed while they were working in the fields, and noted having headaches and dizziness and skin and eye irritations after spraying of the pesticide. A few children told researchers that they had fainted, vomited, or had convulsions after the spraying of pesticides in the field where they worked.” Thus, this is an unacceptable concept and should not be furthered practiced. In India, there are more than 40 million of those whom are below the age of 14. This statistic has been observed and analyzed by the international non-government organization, Save the Children.
An obvious specialist that can aid in diminishing child labour is the government, especially the Government of India in this case. There are already laws implemented in India in regards to child labour. For example, Article 24 is a policy against children working against hazardous environment. Although it is observed that the government in India has already established laws such as The Child Labour Act, 1986; The Factories Act, 1948; The Mines Act, 1952; The Juvenile Justice of Children Act, 2000 and The Minimum Wages Act, 1948, child labour still remains an immense issue. There are not many child labour laws in place as there should be. Often times, most of the laws are disregarded and/or ignored. In addition, an obstruction of a decrease in child labour is that there is not a minimum age of work and the age to work in a workplace with hazardous conditions is also low. One of the many solutions needed to resolve child labour is the government implementing more strict laws in regards to this issue.
Poverty is one of the main factors leading to child labour. If a family is experiencing poverty, there is a high possibility that the parents will need to try and earn money in any way possible, which may include sending their children to work instead of to school. It is easier said than done; the elimination of poverty, however, is closely linked to child labour which makes it apparent that something has to be to help diminish these rates. A solution for the government to decrease the rate of poverty is by providing programs and money to families per month, or an amount enough such that the children are able to go to school and receive an education at their age. An alternative solution is to provide government-funding schooling.
In terms of education for the children, India has established The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009. This only, however, provides for free and compulsory education to those of ages 6 to 14. It is observed from statistics of the annual report of the department of labor under the section of India that there are children who work even at the age of 5. The right to free and compulsory education should be granted to those even younger than the age of six.
More schools need to be built and the government can contribute by funding this. This allows for easier access for children to attend school and restrain from working during school time. “The quality of schools is at least as important as quantity. Schools alone will fail to mitigate child labor if they are inaccessible, open at inappropriate hours of the day, offer poor teaching and teach subjects that students and their parents do not think will help children more than the skills can pick up on a job.” An issue in regards to children not going to school is the fact that there are not many schools that provide quality education. Not only should there be more schools, but education needs to be promoted as it is a significant part of a child’s life and future.
The government needs to provide more programs to help deal with situation. In attempt to provide programs in order to promote children attending school instead of work, the government offered to pay children a small proportion of money to those attending school in stead of work. This program was placed in the 1990s and the amount given to children was only 2 dollars per month. Throughout the years, it is evident that this method did not work in promoting children in attending school. In addition, the government realized this but failed to change and produce another method in resolution to this problem. The efforts of the government in India are slow not promising.
Not only should the government enforce programs for child labour, but also to reduce/eliminate poverty. A program to help with education is Vidyarambam, where support classes are offered to those who are in school, out of school or are working. It is evident that this has helped many children since most classes are free or inexpensive. It is also noted that about 4500 students benefit from this program for this past year and more than 7000 children within the past seven years. If the substitution of school instead of work is in act, there would be a loss of income. Thus, “both parents and children may benefit more from a part-time-work, part-time-school arrangement than from a plan that involves complete substitution of school for work. In any case, programs will have to account for both the need for children to become educated and their need to survive.” If there were more programs like this offered by the government or other organizations, more children would be more engaged in their education and the rate of child labour would decline.
Currently, there are only a few laws established for children working in hazardous workplaces which includes The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986. Thus, the government can aid in this situation by instituting proper legislation with respect to employee protection. This includes provision of employee protection (children).
The employees’ side should not only be looked upon, but also the employers. Employers have an important role in preventing child labour in addition to other roles around the world. Employers and manufacturers mostly have an interest in making profit. If they produce cheap products, they want cheap labour. Employers have a main goal of prosperity. Thus, if children are available to work while the company does not have to pay as much, some employers are willing to allow child labour. Although there are certain laws in regards to child labour in India, employers will often find loop-holes in the government legislation regarding child labour. It is analyzed by the Child Labor Publication Project that “Even when laws or codes of conduct exist, they are often violated. Existing laws are being violated or manipulated for the benefit of the employer. Thus, child labour still is in act partially due to this reasoning. For example, the manufacture and export of products often involves multiple layers of production and outsourcing, which can make it difficult to monitor who is performing labor at each step of the process.”
A straight forward solution in diminishing child labour within the working field is to refuse to hire or accept children to work. If further participation of child labour is involved, the company’s reputation may be negatively impacted.
Additionally, other countries can have a role in prohibiting this worldwide issue. Limiting or declining imports from companies who partake in child labour may prohibit this issue. Businesses have a high interest in making profit. Thus, if they are not selling as much as they would like, this may prompt them to eliminate child labour.
Although there are many people involved in impacting the issue of child labour, it is expected that the Government of India in addition to other governments who may partake in resolving this case, have a major role in decreasing the rate of child labour. An ideal solution is to have organizations or fundraisers put in place to help countries such as India.
Another key aspect to resolving the complex problem is bringing awareness. Child labour has been an international issue since the late 1700s. Although the issue is well aware of, not very much has been done to prevent it or stop it, especially in India. Many improvements such as laws and programs have been instituted but have not helped drastically in terms of eliminating the issue of child labour. Although this issue is declining, there are still millions of children solely in India working in the working field. This issue still needs vast attention.
It is apparent that there are many different people who can help decrease the rate of child labour even more. One of them are families, especially the parents. In most cases of child labour, the parents and family are low are experiencing poverty. Thus, the employment of the parents has an impact on this concern. Often times, parents accept child labour as it is money that is needed in order to support the family. It is understood that although money is an issue, education is important. Money should not be children’s responsibility. Over time, it is seen as typical for children to work instead of pursuing education. With the aid of child labour elimination, this concept can change. The parents should not be enforcing children to work, but to send them to school instead.
The children have a right to compulsory and free education. They should not be working in hazardous conditions at their age. Victims have been inquired on their perspective of this on-going situation. “Whenever I see children of my age who are going to school, I get a feeling that I am missing something and feel bad about myself. My future would have been better if I had joined in school and had tried to study”, was a comment made by a thirteen-year old girl who had experienced child labour. An option in regards to this is that families can file suits against corporations who abuse the labour laws in place.
Beyond parents filing suits against companies who accepted their children to work in that environment, consumers can as well. In addition to the government and families, consumers can be another group in dealing with the prevention of child labour. Not only can the consumers in India help aid the prevention of child labour, but also consumers world-wide. Most of the manufacturers Not purchasing goods or services from companies whom participate in child labour will benefit the cause decreasing child labour.
As noted previously, consumers can also have organizations and fundraisers put in place to help with this international issue.
Consumers have a powerful role and have more potential to stop child labour than they realize. It is for the benefit of children for consumers to boycott products that relate to child labour. It is best for consumers to research and comprehend how their spending and purchases can have a negative effect. The prohibition of purchasing items involving this issue will enforce a bad reputation or bad publicity on those companies. This will in turn trigger the companies to stop child labour for the sake of the success of their company. When consumers stop purchasing products that engage in this, there will be no point in producing the products if no profit is being made. This may be a solution and aid to the international problem. Consumers are one of many groups needed to act in order to establish a prohibition of child labour, especially in India.
The Government of India has many responsibilities and one of them should further attempt to put an end to child labour as it still remains an immense problem. The government can implement more laws pertaining to protection and elimination of child labour, they can build more schools, promote access to education and provide more programs. The government of other countries should also aid in eliminating this issue.
In addition to the government system, families within India also partake in the aid of this situation by parents not relying on their children for any income but rather sending their children to school instead.
The media and society can bring awareness and promote access to education; the employers should not hire children; consumers should not purchase goods from manufacturers whom participate in the act of child labour.
It is evident that although it is only focused on one country, India, there are many roles and groups needed to be involved with the issue of child labour. “Ending child labor will require action on many levels: economic growth; laws and law enforcement; social mobilization;
and building schools and making them affordable, accessible and appropriate.” An issue this prominent and significant is not a simple task to eliminate or even diminish. Thus, a variety of people are needed to be involved and assist in prohibiting child labour because since it is a complex problem, it requires a complex solution.
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