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Child Labour Essay

2738 words - 11 pages

Children in Society- Child labour
Child labour is an issue that affects children all over the world and whether we like it or not, it contributes in great extent to the world’s economic development. People tend to think of it as an issue related to the past, pictured by young chimney sweepers or children working down in mines or in mills or in more recent times, in under developed countries, children working to survive and provide for their families. However, research reveals that in contemporary Britain this is still an issue, as children still perform arduous labour and British multinationals are either directly or indirectly involved with exploitation of children around the world. ...view middle of the document...

This may be because they are abused or were abandoned. This will force children to perform harmful types of labour, that may include prostitution and begging in the streets, (Gifford, 2009)
 It is one’s opinion that children should be able to work, if that is what they wish, however to understand how child labour can be acceptable it is important to first understand the difference between child labour and work.
As it was previously mentioned, according to ILO (2010), “child labour” is a form of harmful work undertaken by children, however not all forms of work are classified as “child labour”. Forms of work that do not affect the children’s health and development, and do not interfere with schooling, are normally seen as something positive, as it may help developing the children’s sense of responsibility and independence. (ILO, 2010) Therefore, it is to conclude that not all types of work are harmful. But who’s to say how harmful work can be for children?
One of the arguments against children’s work is that it negatively affects child development, yet child psychologists have been criticised for making such assumptions. According to Woodhead (1999, cited in Maybin and Woodhead, 2003) these assumptions do not represent the whole picture. He argues that in order to understand the harmful consequences work inflicts in children, it is important to take into consideration the different contexts in which they are inserted, without immediately assuming that children’s work is naturally harmful. In today’s Britain it is unnatural to see children performing labour, however this has not always been the case.
Before the industrialization the normative rule would have been children beginning to work as soon as they were old enough to usefully contribute to the family budget. Working class children did not enjoy the privilege of growing and developing through education and play. (Maybin and Woodhead, 2003) Children would be given jobs from a very young age. For example, in agriculture children could be employed as young as six years old as human scarecrows. For children this would probably have been a fun activity and a form of enjoying nature and exercising, if it wasn’t for the loneliness, the long hours and the empty stomach making it exhausting and terrifying. (Humphries, 2010) Other tasks in agriculture would have been looking after animals, milking cows, planting seeds, pulling weeds and picking the ripe crops. Children working in homes would have been domestic servants, apprentices, chimney sweepers or help with family production. If children were apprentices, they would be working and living with their master, receiving training instead of wages. If the masters were not abusive (which they were most of the times), the children and their families would consider these fair arrangements, as by the age of twenty one the children would have mastered the skills and probably be able to set up their own businesses. (Kussmaul, 1990) Some children would...

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