Child labour refers to the employment of children in any work that deprives children of their childhood, interferes with their ability to attend regular school, and that is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful. This practice is considered exploitative by many international. Legislations across the world prohibit child labour. These laws do not consider all work by children as child labour; exceptions include work by child artists, supervised training, certain categories of work such as those by Amish children, and others.
Childhood is the most innocent phase in human life. It is that stage of life when the human foundations are laid for a successful adult life. Many children, instead of spending it in a carefree and fun-loving manner while learning and playing, are scarred and tormented.They would love to break-free from this world, but continue to be where they are, not out of choice, but force.
Child labour was employed to varying extents through most of history. Before 1940, numerous children aged 5–14 worked in Europe, the United States and various colonies of European powers. These children worked in agriculture, home-based assembly operations, factories, and mining and in services such as newsies. Some worked night shifts lasting 12 hours. With the rise of household income, availability of schools and passage of child labour laws, the incidence rates of child labour fell. Child laborers’ are exploited, exposed to hazardous work conditions and paid a pittance for their long hours of work. They belong to the unorganized labour force.
The Constitution of India says that: (a) No child below the age of 14 years shall be employed to work in any hazardous employment (Article 24) (b) Childhood and youth are to be protected against exploitation and against moral and material aban¬donment (Article 39 (f) Child labour is still common in many parts of the world. Estimates for child labour vary. It ranges between 250 to 304 million; if children aged 5–17 involved in any economic activity are counted. If light occasional work is excluded, ILO estimates there were 153 million child labourers aged 5–14 worldwide in 2008. This is about 20 million less than ILO estimate for child labourers in 2004. Some 60 percent of the child labour was involved in agricultural activities such as farming, dairy, fisheries and forestry.
Another 25 percent of child labourers were in service activities such as retail, hawking goods, restaurants, load and transfer of goods, storage, picking and recycling trash, polishing shoes, domestic help, and other services. Child labour predominantly occurs in the rural areas (70%) and informal urban sector (26%). Contrary to popular beliefs, most child labourers are employed by their parents rather than in manufacturing or formal economy. Children who work for pay or in-kind compensation are usually found in rural settings, than urban centers.