BY CHRIS KERR | June 12, 2013
“I want to help Daddy with his project. I am a worker.”
Each weekend it seems like there is some sort of project around our house that keeps my wife and me busy. And, without a doubt there is always an eager three-year-old there ready to help. Whether it is planting vegetables in the garden, mowing the lawn, or installing a new faucet in the bathroom, he is right there and at the ready to utilize as many age-inappropriate tools as possible. Of course, it doesn’t take long until his mind strays and suddenly the intense desire to work turns to the construction of a new train track or a new structure formed out of blocks.
I am grateful that at the wise-old-age of three my son has a strong desire to work, or at least to start a project. Some day I am sure this initiative will serve him well as he develops an interest in a job and eventually a vocation. In the meantime, his “work” is just a small part of his development offering him ways to safely explore the world around him.
However, a quick glance at the news on any given day illustrates the harsh reality that many children in our world are not so lucky. According to the International Labor Organization there are 10.5 million child laborers often working in hazardous and sometimes slavery-like conditions. 6.5 million of these children are between the ages of five and 14 years old and more than 71 percent are girls. Child laborers are often victims of physical, psychological and even sexual violence. In countries challenged by poverty, the desire for children to generate income is something I can understand but not condone. It would be easy to suggest that it is the parents who are solely responsible for this unjust use and abuse of children, but in reality we are all culpable. Sadly, our economic system seeks the most inexpensive way to profit. A child picking cocoa beans or working as a domestic servant allows our economy to grow but denies that child his or her dignity.
Today (June 12th) we celebrate “World Day Against Child Labor” to bring attention to the injustices facing so many children. How can we put an end to child labor? How can we promote working and living conditions that value the human dignity of each person, no matter his or her age or place of birth?
Learn more about child labor & be part of the international efforts to end it:
International Labor Organization
International Labor Rights Organization
International Initiative to End Child Labor
The Child Labor Coalition
Child Labor in the News:
Children Toil in India’s Mines, Despite Legal Ban (February 20, 2013 – New York Times)
Chris joined the Ignatian Solidarity Network (ISN) as executive director in 2011. He has over fifteen years of experience in social justice advocacy and leadership in Catholic education and ministry. Prior to ISN he served in multiple roles at John Carroll University, including coordinating international immersion experience and social justice education programming as an inaugural co-director of John Carroll’s Arrupe Scholars Program for Social Action. Prior to his time at John Carroll he served as a teacher and administrator at the elementary and secondary levels in Catholic Diocese of Cleveland. Chris speaks regularly at campuses and parishes about social justice education and advocacy, Jesuit mission, and a broad range of social justice issues. He currently serves on the board of directors for Christians for Peace in El Salvador (CRISPAZ). Chris earned a B.A. and M.A. from John Carroll University in University Heights, Ohio. He and his family reside in Shaker Heights, Ohio.