Child labour is work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity.
It is work that exceeds a minimum number of hours; work that is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to children; and work that interferes with their schooling.
Why is there child labour?
Children can be forced into work for many reasons:
- Due to poverty and lack of access to public services, like social support or healthcare, children must labour in order to support their families, instead of going to school.
- A lack of education about a child’s physical and psychological development needs and a lack of knowledge of the hazardous of certain kinds of work mean parents may unwittingly expose their children to dangers through this type of work
- In other cases, parents have no other choice but to let their children face these risks in order to feed their family and there are no safer alternative available.
- Vulnerable families and children are tricked or coerced into working in exploitative situations, where they are not free and are repeatedly exploited for profit.
Isn’t it better for children to work than to live in poverty?
There is an important distinction to be made between a child being forced into labour and a child's willing participation in work.
Child labour by definition does not have a positive effect on children’s lives. It negatively affects a child’s development and their rights. It means they become increasingly vulnerable to further exploitation and abuse and families remain trapped in a cycle of poverty. They have no choice but to endure these circumstances to the detriment of their health and education.
World Vision Australia believes every child is entitled to a childhood. This means an opportunity to play, socialise and attend school.
In the right circumstances of course, working can help children develop skills, maturity and responsibility, preparing them for the future including employment, parenthood and participation in adult society.
This occurs when children of an appropriate age for the task, receive appropriate pay and work in safe environments, balancing work with school and play. This is not the case for child labourers.
How widespread is child labour?
It’s difficult to know precisely how many child labourers there are, but there are an estimated 215 million.
Of these, 115 million are predicted to be in the worst forms of child labour – which means the practice is extremely exploitative. This includes:
- modern-day slavery;
- work that involves sexual exploitation;
- the production and trafficking of drugs; and
- other labour that is very damaging to their physical or mental development.
How you can help
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