Today millions of children across the world won’t be getting that Friday feeling; they’ll be forced to work.
It’s a day to raise awareness about children of all ages who are forced to work. Around the world there are around 168 million children having to work, according to charity Unicef.
Child labour is defined as the employment of children which is unfair, illegal or exploitative. Child labour is dangerous as it can mentally and physically damage the children working.
It’s estimated more than half of child workers are employed in farming and agriculture.
Think back to when you were six or seven. Would you rather have been playing out in the garden or lifting bricks nearly as heavy as yourself?
Children around the world are sent out to work by their parents. For many families across the world it’s not that they would choose to send their children out to work. Extreme poverty means they just don’t have a choice.
Not going to school might seem like the dream. But if children are sent out to work instead they are denied an education and this has an impact on their future prospects. Reports by the International Labour Organisation have shown that children forced into child labour have a greater chance of working in low paid or unpaid positions in the future. Or in Monopoly terms: Do not pass go; do not collect £200.
Not in every case; but many children do work in conditions that aren’t that much better than slavery.
However, child slavery is also a big problem. According to the International Labour Organisation, 8.4 million children worldwide are working in slavery. This includes working as prostitutes, drug runners and as child soldiers in war zones. Not nice stuff.
Many children are trafficked far away from their homes and families to work. Children in these situations often have no contact with loved ones and no way to get home.
This isn’t just happening far away on the other side of the world. A report quoted by the Guardian states that 12 million children in child labour are working in developed countries.
As far as slavery is concerned; it’s now illegal in every country. Despite this, people are still working in slave conditions on every continent in the world, according to Anti-Slavery International.
This includes people given no choice but to work. They are often threatened. People are sold off and treated as goods, and some are kept in captivity. It’s been estimated there are around four thousand slaves in the UK. It’s unknown how many of these are children, but it’s a problem which needs addressing.
Raising awareness is the first step. The number of children in child labour has dropped since 2000 by 1/3rd but there is still a long way to go. There are many groups and organisations which provide information about Child Labour. Unicef and Anti-Slavery International, to name just two, are campaigning to end Child Labour. They are also a good source for tips on how to fundraise.
In 2015 the UK government passed the Modern Slavery Bill. This increased the punishment for human trafficking from 14 years in prison to life imprisonment. It also created a defence so those forced to commit crimes will not be punished for them. From now on the criminals may have to do the dirty work themselves.
People are using the #childlabour to show their support for this cause. So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and do some good!
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