Is Overpopulation the Main Cause of Child Labour? Child labour refers to the employment of children to benefit their family financial situation where they are exploited to danger and hazard. It may interfere with their education and hamper the children physically, mentally, spiritually or morally. Children exposed to child labour since young can be distorted or disabled due to carrying heavy loads or forced into unnatural positions at work for long hours. Many say that the main cause of child labour is overpopulation.
Though I agree that overpopulation is one of the important causes of child labour, but I think that it is not the main cause of it. According to a report from UNICEF in 2010, an estimate number of 158 million children are engaged in child labour and this is about 17% of the total number of children and according to International Labour Organization, it has increased to 215 million currently.
Over the years, researchers have provided sufficient evidences that a large popularity of child labour occurs in developing countries. Majority of it happens mostly in the rural of Asian and African countries and they are mostly victims of scarce resources for example food supply and water. However, child labour is also common in some developed countries, for example in the United States, more than 230,000 children work in agriculture. Reported by Edmonds and Pavcnik, 85% of working children are employed for doing works related to the agriculture.
Countries where child labour has become a common practice include Bangladesh, Tanzania, Myanmar, Yemen, India and many more. Below is a case of child labour in Bangladesh: “Mohammad Faisal Hossain is a twelve-year-old boy who works to support his family. To meet their needs, he holds down two jobs on the packed roads of the Bangladesh capital, Dhaka: selling newspapers in the early morning and working as a helping hand on a small minibus. Every morning, Mohammad collects newspapers from the retailer and weaves his way through the crowded railway stations and bus stops. On an average day, he earns 70 to 80 taka, less than US$1, at this job.
His second job takes up most of his time until evening. On the minibus, he shouts out the vehicles’ destination to potential passengers and collects fares from each rider. At this job, Mohammad worries for his safety. His wish is to go to school everyday like other children but his mother, whose once a maid servant but left after she fell sick, couldn’t afford sending him to school after fifth grade. At this crucial moment between death and survival, his father left them behind which made them even more helpless and he has no other option but to work.” — reported by UNICEF —
Causes of Child Labour Cases of child labour are mostly found in families who are suffering from poverty. Poorer families are usually overpopulated and they have more children and family members to feed and to take care of. In addition to these, they have limited resources of food supply and other basic necessities essential for living as they can’t afford anything more. These factors have driven children to work so that their financial situation at home will improve. Exposed to harms, abuses and exploits, the children are deprived from their education.
Overpopulation in an area will also cause the demand of resources like food supply to increase and therefore, people will compete for the available resources. This means that the poorer families will have less access to it. However, personally, I think that overpopulation is not the main cause of child labour. Poverty is the primary cause of child labour. Poverty leads to many other factors which force children into labour.
Despite the fact that the parents know that child labour is incorrect, they are forced to choose this as the other option will be worse, for instance, without sufficient money for the basic needs of life, people will become malnourished and infected with dieaseas which will eventually cause death. Besides that, poorer families tend to be less educated. The illiteracy of parents will cause them to neglect the physical and emotional development of a child as they do not realize the importance of one’s education and the effect of it they have on their future.
Due to their illiteracy, the grown-ups are finding it difficult to find jobs that can provide them enough income to support their family. Now in the 21st century, most of the well-paid jobs are to be done with the help of advanced technology and it is expected that their employees have knowledge of how to use a computer.
Thus, it is expected that the poorer ones has less chance to be employed as they don’t even know how to read or write, is it not? The increase in unemployments of the adults has caused the children to become the source of income. Children tend to work in factories because employers find it more profitable to employ children as they cost less and can extract more work. This problem has been known and throughout the years, much aid has been gathered to help increase the employment rate in rural areas.
Governments and communities have been struggling hard to try find ways to bridge the digital divide as this may be the first step in help eradicating poverty. However, in my opinion, I think that the main culprit of the practice of child labour is the government. The ignorance of corrupted governments have caused cases of child labour to increase at a fast pace. It is the only right thing that the governments make sure that their people
are not suffering from the lack of basic needs. They are the ones responsible for the countries affairs and they need to take actions to eradicate poverty in the country as fast as possible for example implementing new laws or enforcing existing laws to ban the employment of certain age. Here is a case where child labour is being ignored: An underage farm worker, Molefe Mogale, 14, was working on a farm in Rustenburg when his hand was chopped off while operating a machine. He died in hospital a day later, on 26 July, Phetoe said.
"So far only a case [of murder and child labour] is opened and nothing further is done. No arrest, no prosecution… because the case was opened by the farmer we were told that they will not charge him." — reported by Times Live –Effects of Child Labour Child labour deprives children of a proper childhood. They do not complete their development all roundly and this may lead to many psychological imbalances. When they grow up, the child labourers remains uneducated which means that they will be unable to find a good job. Hence, they become incapable of taking care their own family which means they need to make the later generation to work and thus, the history repeats itself.
The uneducated of the child labourers will condemn them to a life of unskilled and badly paid work and this perpetuates poverty. Also, children who never have the chance to enjoy the fun of their childhood are expected to reach mental and emotional maturity at a very early age. This is highly dangerous as these children will start displaying adult behaviors such as smoking and taking drugs. Employers are now taking the liking towards employing children as they are often paid much less than adults.
These causes the unemployments of adults increase and thus, more families will force their children to work. Child labour also has impacts on the economy of the country. Despite the fact that child labour will not have evident impact when their young, but we all know that the future of our world lies in the hands of the the earlier generation. Possible Scenarios As I have mentioned above, I strongly disagree that overpopulation is the main cause of child labour. Poverty causes overpopulation and the ignorance of the corrupted government are the ones to blame for not putting enough effort to eradicate poverty.
Corrupt Governments ⇾ Continuation of Poverty ⇾ Overpopulated Families ⇾ Child Labour The children now are the future leaders of this place and if child labour is not stopped, it means that our world will be ﬁlled with more uneducated people. This will bring much problems as there will be many vacancies for the oﬃce jobs in developed countries because not many of them are capable for the jobs. When people of the country has a lower income, it means that the total income of the country will also fall. Then, the global market will be aﬀected.
The gap between the rich and the poor will be even harder to bridge and it will be an eternal struggle for the government to eradicate poverty in their country. People around the world will face problem getting access to the services and products in rural countries when the unemployment rate increases. Many businesses that required special skills will not be able to have the jobs ﬁlled and eventually fall into bankruptcy.
Businesses like manufacturing factories and farming will be cramped with people as they are the only job that the people are capable of doing because they do not require much skills. However, the employers will not be able to employ everybody in that area and the many more people will remain unemployed. Child labour will also cause harm to the countries’ nations. It can bring harm to our society.
The children who are not brought up in the right way will not know that stealing is immoral and in order to survive, they will steal things from others. A recent case shows that a 10 year old kid was beaten to death because the innocent kid was slow at things. Imagine that you are the parent of the child, how will you react? They will react rashly and harshly towards the loss of their child and cause unsettlement and turmoil around the society. As more families face the same thing, the problem will get bigger and the whole country will be aﬀected, forcing the government to take actions. What Should Be Done To Stop Child Labour?
In my opinion, the government bears the most responsibility to stop child labour. Throughout the years, many diﬀerent laws have been implemented to ban the abuse of children and so on. Below are some examples of laws implemented to overcome the issue: 1919: The Minimum Age (Industry) Convention (No. 5) prohibited the work of children under the age of 14 in industrial establishments. 1930: The ILO Forced Labour Convention (No. 29) protected children from forced or compulsory labour, such as victims of traﬃcking, children in bondage, like Iqbal, and those exploited by prostitution and pornography.
1999: ILO unanimously adopted the Convention concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention (No. 182). It called for States to prevent the most damaging child exploitation practices or the worst forms that currently exist. Besides that Declaration of the Right of the Child is issued, stating a few important rules to help protect the children against unfair treatment and the protect their rights to have access to certain things like education.
Declaration of the Rights of Child 1. All children have the right to what follows, no matter what their race, colour sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, or where they were born or who they were born to. 2. You have the special right to grow up and to develop physically and spiritually in a healthy and normal way, free and with dignity. 3. You have a right to a name and to be a member of a country. 4. You have a right to special care and protection and to good food, housing and medical services. 5. You have the right to special care if handicapped in any way.
6. You have the right to love and understanding, preferably from parents and family, but from the government where these cannot help. 7. You have the right to go to school for free, to play, and to have an equal chance to develop yourself and to learn to be responsible and useful. 8. You have the right always to be among the ﬁrst to get help. 9. You have the right to be protected against cruel acts or exploitation, e.g. you shall not be obliged to do work which hinders your development both physically and mentally. 10.You should be taught peace, understanding, tolerance and friendship among all people. The enforcement of existing laws is very important because there will not be eﬀective if they are not enforced.
There is one Chinese idiom that says: “Give a man a ﬁsh and you feed him for a day. Teach a man how to ﬁsh and you feed him for life.” I think that the government or communities should organize vocational education and training for older child labourers so that they have better skills which means a better job in the future. Besides the implementation of new laws and enforcing the existing laws, in papers prepared for the 1997 International Conference on Child Labour, it was revealed that child labour can best be combated through providing better access to education, raising social awareness and so on.
According to UNICEF, for every year of quality education that a child receives, their adult earning potential increases by a worldwide average of 10%. Governments in several countries have tried to make the enrollment of school compulsory and free of charge. This is accomplished by collecting funds and reducing the use of money on less important things. This method has been proven successful in Malawi in the year of 1994 when the government made primary education free. Research stated than from one academic year to the next, enrollment has increased by roughly 50%.
However, I believe that stopping child labour is not only the responsibility of the governments. The society needs to contribute too as we are all living as one. I think that ﬁrstly, we need to be aware of what is happening to them and we can do this by observing the World Day Against Child Labour every year on June 12. We can start by spreading the words around and maybe start a community in our society to unite against the problems by collecting funds to aid poorer families so that they can aﬀord sending their children to school, gather old and unused items from people to donate to them so that they can spend their money on something else, organize campaigns to build rehabilitation and vocational centers to teach them special skills, and so on.
Above are some of the basic things that we can do to help but to make things more eﬀective, we can write to companies that use child labour and demand that they stop, contact Foreign Aﬀairs, Industry, Trade and Labour Ministers to demand that trade be tied to human, children and labour rights, lobby the government to make education for all children a top priority, etc.
We can all make a diﬀerence and anything will be possible if we put much eﬀort into it. Small things that we do can make a great diﬀerence even only by spreading words about the eﬀects and great impacts of child labour. In 2006, the International Labour Organization published a report called The End of Child Labour:Within Reach. There was one very special fact noted in this report:
“Today, there are 28 million fewer child labourers than there were four years ago! This means that the work you are doing—we are all doing—to stop child labour is truly creating positive change. But there is still much more to be done.” Global Views People have come around to know about this serious issue of child labour. Many communities and organizations have contributed much to help reduce and if possible, stop the practice of child labour as it brings bad eﬀects tot he child and the people of the country. The best way to help raising awareness is to have celebrities to spread the word.
This will be the most eﬀective way as people from all around the world can hear them. Several presidents of some countries, including the ex-president of England – Tony Blair, have join hands with communities such as Global March to help keep the rights of the children. In my opinion, I believe that aid need to be provided with them urgently. I think that every children in this world have rights to receive equal opportunity of education and survival
chances. It is unfair that the children have to pay the price of the consequences of poverty when they didn’t even do anything to cause it. Some people might think that it is none of their business as long as they are safe under the roof and has a great future laid beneath them, but they do not know that the continuation of child labour will eventually cause harm to the community and the country. Some of the child labourers even commented that being put in jail is better than their current life because they are fed and sheltered while in jail.
The most basic things that we can do to help is to organize trips to slump-down areas to bring a little joy back to their life and to teach them special skills that might be useful to them in the future. International Views: 1. "When you produce a bullet, you commit another sin against mankind, but when you make a toy or a book you bring hope and smile to a child." — Kailash Satyarthi –International Coordinator of the Global March, Manila 23 January, 1998. 2. “…180 million kids are engaged in the worst forms of child labour. Put it all together and it is not only morally unacceptable, but politically dangerous.” — Juan Samavia –3.
“Child labor and poverty are inevitably bound together and if you continue to use the labor of children as the treatment for the social disease of poverty, you will have both poverty and child labor to the end of time.” — Grace Abbott –4. “In the past, children were all too often viewed more as property than people. Many victories for children's rights have been won in the last 100 years, such as child labor laws, protecting children from having to work long hours in unsafe conditions; public education, allowing all children to have access to learning; and laws preventing child abuse. But there is still much to do in protecting children's rights around the world.” — Robert Alan Silverstein —
National Views: 1. "Now is the time to act – for the future of our generation. The question of child abuse is crucial, we call on the general public to join hands with us." — Boonthan Verawongse –South-East Asia Coordinator for the Global March, Malaysia 18 February,1998 2. “It’s very important for businesses to understand while they are providing employment to the families… that they also have a responsibility to the families and the children who are born of those parents” — Victor Karunan –Voicing Their
Thoughts: 1. “This is our right – that (adults) have to listen. This is children's rights. And if they are not abiding with that right, we will work harder to make them hear.” — Om Prakash –November 19, 2006 2. "We want to study and learn, not beg on the streets. During the worldwide march I learnt that I, too, am a real person. Now I want to become an engineer." — Basu –11 years old Nepalese street child, Thailand 14 February,1998 3. "Why do we have to pay the price of poverty. We didn't create poverty, adults did." — Sultana –12 years old garment factory worker, Bangladesh 14 February,1998.
Conclusion In conclusion, I disagree that overpopulation is the main cause of child labour because I think that a corrupt government in the country contributes most to it. A country’s availability of resources and aﬀairs like poverty rates are all managed by the government. If the government was eﬀective, then the poverty rate will be lower and decrease but a corrupted government will only cause the country to become even poorer, hence increasing the cases of child labour.
Governments play a major role in eradicating poverty and stopping child labour as the impacts of the continuation of child labour will be devastating. As we all know, the future lies in the hands of the children and child labour only causes the increase in the illiteracy rate and this is not something good if we are to lead the country in the future.
However, governments are not the only one responsible of this current issue and businesses and the society needs to help stop it. Businesses should make sure they don’t employ them at a low costs and we as normal citizens need to be careful not to encourage child labour by buying products that involves child labour. Many things have been done to help stop child labour and many laws have been implemented and enforced. At this rate, I believe that child labour can be stopped someday and children will be given back their rights if everybody contributes a little to help them.
- http://nchildlabour.info/HTML/Intro/CAUSES%20AND%20SOCIAL%20IMPACT%20OF %20CHILD%20LABOUR.htm
- http://concordia.academia.edu/GiacomoJackMaggiore/Papers/363243/The_Dark_Exploration_into_the_Reality_behind_the_Third_World_Labor_Market_A_docum ent_on_Child_Labor
- http://library.thinkquest.org/03oct/01908/800/whydoesitoccur_childlabor.htm 9