Do you enjoy drinking coffee after a meal? Do you like eating chocolate during a test period? Coffee and chocolate have several common uses however, a sad fact that we need to focus on is that both products are made available as a result of child labor. Many of the products which we eat, drink and wear are mixed with children’s tears like. Child labor still remains in many places in the world. According to ‘International Labour Organization,’ the number of preschooler workers in the world is nearly 160,000,000 and more than half of them do work categorized as ‘dangerous labor.’ What made them to go to such dangerous places?
The primary reason that children work is poverty. Children who cannot afford basic needs choose to work instead of receiving a formal school education. No one knows exactly the beginning of child labor but many of the most serious abuses happened in the 18th century. When Europe was being developed, rural areas were short-handed. Consequently, the lack of adult workers created positions which were then filled by children, and child labor increased since then. There are several problems with child labor. One problem is that children are given low pay. Even though they work overtime, they don’t get appropriate pay. But more than that, a bigger problem, is that child work under terrible conditions even for adults. Sadly, some children are used for prostitution and drug trafficking. About 22,000 children lose their life every year because they work in bad work environments.
To review the form of child labor in detail, child and youth workers of Vietnam totaled 1,750,000 last year. They account for about 10 percent of children ages 5~17 in Vietnam. They also don't have opportunities to study. They work almost all day but their pay is remarkably low. The Vietnamese government is making plans to protect child rights after criticism about child labor were revealed. Another country that has many problems concerning child labor is Bolivia. After a global financial recession in the 1990’s, the poor population of Bolivia increased as the nation’s financial crisis continued. Finally, in an effort to solve the poverty problem, the Bolivian government allowed children to legally work in 2014.
There are several agreements to prevent exploitation of child labor. One of them is the ‘minimum age convention’, which requires a nation to specify a minimum age in which people can work. The minimum age for labor is 15 years. A person under the minimum age cannot work. Another agreement is the ‘Harkin-Engel Protocol’ known for a cocoa agreement. This agreement was created with the intention of providing chocolate farms with training to prevent the exploitation of child labor. However, despite the enforcement of these agreements, children who work in dangerous places without safety equipment such as coal mines and farms still compose 11 percent of the world’s children population.
There is another effort for eradicating child labor. The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), an international children's emergency fund, is proceeded various campaigns to eradicate child labor. They build education centers at places where child labor remains and they offer children more chances for education. Also, they help poor families find employment to climb out of poverty. Consumers can participate in eradicating child labor also by demanding fair trade, which is buying goods directly from producers in developing countries and paying a fair price. If you buy fair trade merchandise, it will help protect children’s rights. You can purchase goods through fair trade easily when you pay attention to the products you buy with great interest.
Children should have rights to grow up happily. Adults should not infringe on children’s rights and have an obligation to protect them. Therefore, child labor is everybody's problem. We should know about this and try to eradicate exploitation of child labor.