How England and The United States started to

            How many times do you tell yourself,
“I wish I could be a child again,”? When we think of childhood, we think of
innocence, playgrounds, video games, Disney channel, and homework. But how
harsh is it if some children were prevented from all these? Child labor,
the employment of minors below the age of 18, is converting the definition of
childhood. It is wistfully affecting these minors’ lives in distinct ways,
threatening the stability of our societies.

 

In the book,  Child Labor: A Global View, the authors define child labor as the,”work that impedes
children’s access to education and is harmful to their physical, mental, moral,
developmental, and social well-being”(Schmitz et al., “Introduction”). This
clearly suggests the threatening harms accompanied by youth employment. The
author also believes that,”Child labor can also be developmentally,
emotionally, and physically abusive”(Schmitz et al., “Introduction”).

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History:

On this behalf, many
studies reflect the importance of globally prohibiting the labor of minors. But
firstly, let us go back to the origin and history of this issue. During
the early 1800’s factories in England and The United States started to develop,
and when the factory owners found a new and cheap way to benefit and run their
machines, that’s when child labor started to develop. Many kids started working
before even reaching 7 years old in tending machines in spinning mills or
pulling heavy loads, this work lasted for about 12 to 18 hours per day which is
an unbelievable number, in addition to having to work this much the factories
situations where in a very bad conditions often dark, humid and dirty. These
children had definitely no time for their minimal rights such as playing,
studying or even resting, the often spent their times a work. Later on, the
crisis started to increase and about 2 million school-age children were working
about 50 to 70 hours per week, most of them came from poor families and were
willing to help them. Even though the number nowadays decreased, but for sure
there is still a large and outrageous number of children are still working and
being abused in the whole world.

 

            The worse part of child labor is the
type of labor. In the newspaper article, Battle to Eliminate Child Labor
Intensified, Eric Didier Karinganire gives the legal definition of the word
child as,”anyone younger than 18 years, but asserts that the,”minimum age for
admission to employment is 16″(Karinganire). Also mentioning that the laws that allow
minors’ employment limit its’ forms to exclude,”nocturnal, laborious,
unsanitary or dangerous activities that could harm the child’s health,
education or morality”(Karinganire). The meaning of “nocturnal” is done,
occurring, or active at night. However, these laws that aim to protect our
children are nor effectively enforced. Worldwide, the worst forms of child
labor are being practiced. Karinganire mentions some of these, reporting
examples such as,”practices similar to slavery, such as the sale and
trafficking of children, debt bondage and serfdom, and forced or compulsory
labor, including recruitment of children in armed conflict”(Karinganire).
The dictionary definition of serfdom is the state of being a serf, a person in
a condition of servitude, required to render services to a lord, commonly
attached to the lord’s land and transferred with it from one owner to another,
whereas debt bondage occurs when a person is forced to work to pay off a debt.

 

            But who really cares? Who besides me and a
handful of recent researchers has a stake in these claims? At the very least,
the researchers who formerly believed in the case should care. Admittedly, in
the brutal world we live in, a number of reasons are contributing to child
labor, including divorce of the parents, poverty, and educational deprivation.
Some adults decide to have children, assuming this would be a cherry on top of
their love life. However, when this fairytale ends up as a nightmare, where the
parents either divorce or fail to be successful caregivers, the only victim
would be the child. Neglected by his two wise parents, this child finds himself
in need for a monetary source and therefore, he/she decides to drop out of
school and find a job. In the article,Impact of Child Labor on Universalization
of Primary Education at District Bannu, Sayyed Farooq Shah and his fellow
authors highlight the fact that child labor is “a socio-economic issue,
which not only wrecks the social growth, but also damages the moral fabrics of
our society”(Sayyed Farooq Shah et al., Abstract).

 

Literature Review:

            According to the International
Labour Organization, a specialized agency of the U.N,”the estimate of child laborers in the world is 168 million”(Maki, “Fast
Facts”). Unfortunately, these numbers are increasing annually and the forms of
employment are becoming more cruel even though our societies are supposedly
developing. However, Sayyed Farooq Shah, praise the idea that,”It is a universally and unanimously
agreed upon fact that making of Primary Education Universal and eradication of
Child Labour are two mutually interconnected disputes and no one of us can deny
of the fact that none of them can be achieved without the other one”(Sayyed Farooq Shah et al.,1). That said, their should be a
universal agreement on the necessity of providing basic education for children,
ensuring their mental development. Also, official measures should be enforced
on parents who allow their children to drop out of school, as well as the
workplaces which employ minors who do not carry a high school degree. In his
article, AL Frank, Professor of Public Health and Editorial Board Member at
Drexel University School of Public Health, elaborates on this aspect by assert
that,”the wealthier nations of the world should stop insisting on the lowest
price, but on paying a fair price that allows families worldwide the chance to
live and send their children to school, not into unsafe workplaces”(Frank).
What we can conclude from this is that, the workplaces should raise their
employees’ salaries whenever they have children to ensure they attain their
education.

            Writing
the article, Child Labor Facts in the Worldwide: A Review Article, the Ali
Khakshour complains that,”The term “child labour” is often defined
as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their
dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development”(Khakshour et
al., “Introduction”). Some people would say that working is not a big deal,
you just go complete your assigned tasks, get paid and go home. However, these
people are ignorant about the vulnerability of the children between the ages of
14 to 18. During this period, adolescents’ personalities are as fragile as
glass, so, the surrounding situations either make them rigid or break them
down. Frank gives an example on these harsh circumstances where, “Young
virgins are ‘sold’ as cures for HIV/AIDS, with continued abuse and a
life-threatening illness as the likely outcomes”(Frank). Also, not all
customers are heart-full; whenever they see a young employee, they spill out
their cruelty and mistreat this child. Bullying is a major issue in this domain
and has long term brutal effects. Children are growing up with depression, low
self-esteem, and a permanent sense of insecurity. This is not only limited to
the mistreatment in their workplace, but also due to their lack of education.
Whenever a child drops out of school to work, his cognition rates will not
develop sufficiently. Education is a beacon that lightens our path towards
progress. So, if you are prevented from this blessing, your chances of success
in life are very low.

Research Questions:

·      What are the
reasons for prohibiting the employment for minors?

·      How is child labor
affecting our society nowadays?

 

 

Aims And Objectives:

The objective of this research is to display the threats of child labor
on the children and the society, along with determining whether the age of
employment should be increased to be 18.

 

Theory:

In the following
research I used the Sociological Theory of Effectiveness, this theory is
used to distinguish between different types of societies and to analyze
modernity as it has been shown in the last few centuries; this theory has been
shown from the perspective of western philosophy and often considered as
Eurocentric. (A theory is an attempt to explain and predict
behavior in particular contexts. A theoretical orientation cannot be proven or
disproven; a theory can). The social theory has
its roots from both European and non-European philosophical and social thought,
through thinkers such as: Confucius, Mozi, Saint Augustine. Confucius had a
great role in building this theory, for he conceived a fair society that went
beyond his modern society of the warring states. In the last decades and in restraint
to the postmodern criticism social theory has begun to prominence free desire,
individual liberty, subjective reasoning, and the importance of unpredictable
events in place of deterministic necessity. My research about child labor is
related to this theory in several shades, for      I
am studying and interpreting this social phenomena, and how it affects our
society.

 

 

 

 

Methodology:

In concern to Methodology;
it came from the new Latin word methodologia, dating back to 1790-1800. This
means the systematic, theoretical analysis of methods applied to a field study,
it comprises the theoretical analysis of the body of methods and principles
associated with a branch of knowledge. Usually it includes concepts such as
paradigm, theoretical model, phases and quantitative or qualitative techniques.

 

          Definition of qualitative research:
Qualitative research is a method of inquiry employed in many different academic
disciplines, including in the social sciences and natural sciences, but also in
non-academic contexts including market research, business, and service
demonstrations by non-profits. Qualitative research is designed to reveal a
target audience’s range of behavior and the perceptions that drive it with
reference to specific topics or issues.

Qualitative research
is important since it allows investigators to develop a deeper understanding of
a topic than can be obtained through quantitative research alone. Qualitative
research uses methodologies such as focus groups, in-depth interviews, and
direct observation so researchers can investigate stakeholders’ attitudes,
beliefs and preferences. Qualitative research methods provide an opportunity
for a systematic, in-depth evaluation of a question that may not be easily
answered through quantitative methods. Furthermore, these methods can add to
quantitative results through explanations and clarifications with the target
population.

In this research I
aimed to shed light on the consequences and the severe effects of child labor
on our world, society and on the child itself, as well as I aimed to
concentrate on the point of finding a solution for these poor children so that
the next researches who will mention this topic can rely on my previous
information and data gathered in this research. Therefore the methodology that
I used in my research is qualitative deductive analysis research, thus I
started from the specific problem of child labor and then moved to its serious
contrast and main cause worldwide socially, psychologically, and economically.

 

            Is child labor still increasing? In
their article, Child Labor in Low- and Middle-Income Countries and Its
Consequences for Mental Health: A Systematic Literature Review of Epidemiologic
Studies, Sarah Sturrock and Matthew Hodes
report that,”One in seven children worldwide are exposed to child labour, an
estimated 215 million children”(Sturrock and Hodes, “Introduction”).
Khakshour asserts that,”Child labour accounts for 22% of the workforce in
Asia, 32% in Africa, 17% in Latin America, 1% in US, Canada, Europe and other
wealthy nations”(Khashour et al. 2)We are going around calling for freedom,
raising minimum wages, free education, lower taxes, but what about protecting
innocence? The Child Labor Coalition emphasizes that,”6 of 10 laborers work in
agriculture, most commonly as unpaid workers on family farms”(Maki, “Fast
Facts”). Sturrock and Hodes also reaffirms that child labor can cause”isolation,
low self-esteem, and perception of an external locus of control”(Sturrock and
Hodes,”Abstract”). I agree on these emotional effects because my my
previous experience as a sales person. I deal with impatient and rude customers
who never put themselves in my shoes to understand how hard I work to
accommodate their needs. Whenever I encounter tough situations with such
customers, I feel hurt and I sometimes feel like crying. So, what how do you
think a 14 year old would feel? These children would build negative thoughts
about the world around them, probably thinking, “Why don’t people like me?”, or
“Why are people so mean?” These thoughts lead to the social and psychological
gaps in their development.

 

            To put it another way, why is the voting
age 18? Why is the drinking age 21? Are voting and drinking more abusive than
labor? When it comes to voting, advocates refuse decreasing the voting age to
16, asserting that minors are not mentally and socially prepared to take
serious, life changing decisions. But are minors tough enough to fight through
the workforce? Sara B. Johnson and her colleagues insist that,”having
achieved the legal age to participate in a given activity(e.g., driving,
voting, marrying) often comes to be taken as synonymous with the developmental
maturity required for it”(Sara B. Johnson et al.,  “A Historical Perspective on Development and
Maturity”). So, conventional wisdom has it that the answer should be, NO!
Minors are neither ready to vote, drink nor work. Sara and the authors also
argue that, “In the last decade, a growing body of longitudinal neuroimaging
research has demonstrated that adolescence is a period of continued brain
growth and change, challenging longstanding assumptions that the brain was
largely finished maturing by puberty”(Sara B. Johnson et al.,”Abstract”) .
Growth and change are physical as well as psychological. So, if this period was
stressful and unstable, it would result in the upbringing of mentally impaired,
criminals that are a threat to our societies.

 

            On the other hand, many
undergraduate and graduate level school and college courses require getting
involved in internships as a requisite for passing the class. The dictionary
definition for an internship is that it is the position of a student or trainee
who works in an organization, sometimes without pay, in order to gain work
experience or satisfy requirements for a qualification. That said, the aim of
this requisite is getting students involved in the various responsibilities
accompanied by the job. Whenever one enters the workforce, lecture notes and
exam reviews are no longer the keys to success, but experience, consistency and
hard work are so. However, contrary to child labor, these internships build up
own’s abilities and helps students invest their attained knowledge into real
life situations.

 

            At this point I would like to raise some
objections that have been inspired by the skeptic in me. She feels that I have
been ignoring the complexities of the situation. Some readers may challenge my
view by insisting that getting employed at a young age is accompanied by a
variety of benefits. Kathlyn Gay, author of Child Labor: A Global Crisis,
complicates matters further when she writes, “children in poor families have
worked to help keep themselves and their family members alive. Even when
survival is not at stake, children in middle-class and affluent families may be
encouraged to get jobs because employment during childhood can bring economic,
social, and personal benefits”(Gay 12). Gay is emphasizing on what we had
discussed earlier regarding internships. Getting involved in a job is extremely
profitable, but it is certainly not so at the age of 16. Although I agree with
this theory up to a point, I cannot accept his overriding assumption that child
labor is a pure joy. That said, we can nevertheless ignore the barbarous
circumstances that these children go through at their workplace. Gay elaborates
that children “work in order to learn skills, to develop discipline and
self-esteem, and to understand the value of money”(Gay 12). But what skills
are taught in slavery? Instead, children are learning  how to say cuss words, take drugs, be
cold-hearted, and be depressed.

 

            So far we have been discussing the
reasons for prohibiting the employment for minors. But can’t lawmakers renovate
the laws that contribute to child labor? Public attention to a certain issue is
impractical if there was no official overhaul to reach effective outcomes. In
New York Times article, When
a Doorman Is Underage, Ronda Kaysen states that such laws,”were designed to
protect children from being exploited, even if their families needed the
money”(Kaysen). She narrates a scene that
she had encountered when she saw a 16 year-old working as a doorman at 11 pm.
She says,”he should not work a double shift until 11 p.m. on a school night,
and the manager that scheduled him should know this”(Kaysen). According to
the United States Department of Labor, “As a general rule, the FLSA sets 14
years of age as the minimum age for employment, and limits the number of hours
worked by minors under the age of 16″(United States Department of Labor, “Age
Requirements”). The FLSA establishes minimum wage, overtime pay,
record-keeping, and youth employment standards affecting employees in the
private sector and in Federal, State, and local governments. This department
also guarantees limits for the job forms, where is claims that, “The Fair
Labor Standards Act (FLSA) prohibits minors under age 18
years old to work in any occupation that it deems to be hazardous. Among these
occupations are excavation, manufacturing explosives, mining, and operating
many types of power-driven equipment”(United States Department of Labor,
“Hazardous Jobs”).
However, the morality is not in writing the law, but in enforcing them. If we
cannot increase the legal age of employment to 18, there should at least be
more committees that are responsible for monitoring the content of these
legislations on the state levels. Also, these laws should include sever punishments
for every employer who takes advantage of his minor employees. Essentially, I
can argue not that we should give up the policy, but that we should monitor
effects far more closely. Another way to protect these children is by raising
awareness on their rights in the workplace. This could be done through social
media, advertisements on television channels and billboards, and awareness
campaigns.

 

            In
a nutshell, we are trying to wear the suit of civilization but our souls are
still ignorant. My father’s worst memories go back to the time he had to work
at the age of 14. Every once in a while he would talk to me about how miserable
he was when he had to drop out of school and work several jobs in order to help
his parents who decided to give birth to 11 children. When I decided to get a
job, he told me that I need to be strong because it will not be as easy as I thought it would. Youngsters are a bundle of
conflicting feelings that build up their personalities. So, if these feelings
were not treated and constructed carefully, this will surely be reflected in
their future lives. Prohibiting child labor will protect our children, securing
them from all the dangers of the wild societies we live in. Although child
labor can prepare children for life by helping them gain experience and build
responsibility, it has adverse mental, psychological, and social circumstances
on the well-being of these innocent creatures.