In an economy such as ours the never-ending quest for lower prices rages on around us. But what is the cost of having our products made at the cheapest labor available? Are lower prices really an even exchange for a child's health or physical, mental, or social development?
Child labor is the employment of children (children being classified as anyone under the age of 18) at regular and sustained labor. Child labor includes factory work, mining, prostitution, quarrying, agriculture, helping with their parents' business, having one's own small business (for example having a lemonade stand), or doing odd jobs. Not all child labor is bad. Work that doesn’t interfere with a child’s schooling or physical, mental, or social growth can be rewarding. Such small jobs, such as a paper route, can teach a child responsibility in many forms.
According to the UNICEF there are approximately 250 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 who participate in child labor. Of that 250 million, 171 million are involved in work that is harmful to their physical, mental, and social growth. 8.4 million are involved in the worst forms of child labor, which include the use of children in armed combat and commercial sexual explotation.1
70% of child labor occurs in the agricutural industry. Children in the agricultural sector can face long hours in extreme temperatures, health risks from
1. Child Labor, Wikipedia
pesticides, and inadequate water and sanitation. Fifteen million children are estimated to be in the manufacturing business. From clothes and shoes in Bangladesh and India to fireworks and surgical instruments in China and Pakistan, children are directly involved in many manufacturing processes.
Mining is a particularly dangerous job for children, but being small is one of the key things employers look for when mining. Children in this industry suffer a high rate of illness and injury. Children can be found in gold and emerald mines in...