Child Labour: Working For A Living
Do you usually have a lot of chores to do at home when you return from school? Do you have to help cook supper, walk the dog, mow the lawn, or shovel the driveway? If you’re like most Canadians, you probably have to do at least some of that kind of work. You might even have a paid job like delivering flyers or babysitting after school. Does it ever feel that you have to work too much? Many children around the world have to do much more. That’s why people in many countries have been working to end child labour by the year 2016.
When people talk about child labour, they don’t mean the times when parents tell their children to set the table for supper or to help wash the dishes. They mean work that prevents children from receiving an education or that damages their growth in any way. Sometimes the work even kills them. Young children sometimes work all day in factories or other unhealthy or dangerous places instead of going to school and getting an education.
Canada has laws that require parents to send their children to school, and most people follow the rules. From the age of twelve, children are allowed to have jobs that don’t interfere with their education or harm them in other ways. In countries like Canada and the United States, rules about child labour usually work fairly well, although there are still many cases of children working long hours in dangerous conditions. Sometimes, the children even die on the job. The official estimate of child labour in wealthy countries is about one percent.
In poorer countries, however, the situation is worse. Parents have many children to feed and often also have to support their own parents or other relatives. Even with long hours of work, parents might still not make enough money to survive. In some cases, they might not be able to find any work at all. They might need the income their children bring into the family. Also, sending children to school can often be too expensive for them to afford. The highest level of child labour is in Asia, where about sixty percent of children work.
According to the International Labour Organization, in 2008 about 215 million children around the world had jobs which kept them from going to school or playing. That number was down slightly from 2004, but it actually increased among some groups of children. The problem will continue until people do something about the causes.
How can you help solve the problem of child labour? You can encourage people in government to make better laws, but a more effective way to end the worst kinds of child labour is to get involved personally in helping the families. Even if the child labourers live in another country, you can donate money to help raise the family income or you can tell your friends and family about the issue. Every bit of help can make a difference!