Child Labor – I am a worker

BY CHRIS KERRJune 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.

Child LaborHowever, 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)

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