Child Labor and Why the Current Solutions Are Not Appropriate

Child Labor is one issue that is in the forefront of many international forums and has been recognized as important enough to be dealt with quickly. This problem is especially under scrutiny in Third World countries. That’s because children represent not only a cheap and easily available source of manpower but they are also easily intimidated. And the deft, nimble, tiny fingers of children can perform many tasks that adults cannot handle.The obvious solution that many authorities have come up with is to ban child labor completely. Pull children out of workshops and factories and put them where they should be–in schools. In theory, this solution seems apt but when you look deeper, it only seems to compound the problem. For many kids, working and earning money is the only means of survival. Not just for themselves but in many cases, their income is essential for their unable-to-work parents and siblings. Eliminate this source of income and you have a bigger problem on your hands, that of juvenile crime and child prostitution.

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Let’s talk about schools and education as a solution. It is important to remember that a hungry child is not going to be much of a student. And many Third World countries do not have the means to provide free education. The resources they do have, impart an education that is substandard and useless. The schools simply do not have the teachers or the infrastructure that will enable decent education. Side by side, we also need to take into account another huge problem–that of corruption. The resources that are set aside for education are invariably diverted into the pockets of politicians and middlemen.Whatever solutions the authorities come up with, they need to take into account all these factors and rather than eliminating child labor, they need answers that will allow children to feed themselves. But at the same time, laws should protect children so that they are not exploited and are given fair wages. Also laws need to make sure that the kids’ health is not compromised and they are not made to work in workshops that deal with hazardous materials without proper protective gear.

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The solution to child labor needs to be practical and not just pretty on paper. Until the world recognizes these problems, the future is not looking very good for these kids. Let us all talk about this issue and come together to come up with better and more practical solutions.