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by Joselyne Umutoni
Child labor is the full time employment of children who are under a certain minimum legal age.

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It falls under the social and political aspects of world issues as explained below:
a) Social: children are a part of the many groups in society and generally any issues affecting them also affect how society functions, either directly or indirectly. Child labor also subjects children to social ills such as prostitution and slavery that are unacceptable in most societies. The well-being of children is put at risk when they are subjected to child labor and this is also a social issue.

b) Political: This is due to various reasons such as the laws involved in ending child labor, government policies put in place to end child labor, the companies employing children,organizations seeking to end it and to some extent educating people and children in order to prevent child labor.

1. Causes of child labor
<http://www.globalissues.org/article/62/child-labor>.
This article points out that child labor is a vice in society and that it should be eliminated. Though the reasons for child labor are at times very severe, such as poverty, child labor remains to be anti-humanitarian and should therefore be ended. The article also highlights efforts by some parties around the world to end child labor. Such include the UN's Convention on the Rights of Child and the global march against child labor that took place in major cities around the world.

2.Angles 2010: Child Labor in India
http://web.mit.edu/angles/2010_Srikanth_Bolla.html
The article talks about a child labor victim,4-year old Iqbal Masih, who works at a department store for 12 hours a day in rural India.He was not fed and "was beaten by his employer when he did not work hard enough." He had no parents and no home and he often stood at a busy street intersection after work, asking passers-by for money to eat. This is just a sample of what millions of child laborers go through and it gives a glimpse of what the harsh reality is for such children.

3.Causes and Consequences
http://www.eclt.org/about/overview.html
The causes of child labor are discussed in this article.The main ones include poverty, lack of education and tradition. AIDS can also lead to child labor in cases where children orphaned by AIDS have to work in order to fend for themselves. These causes are predominant in the rural ares, where child labor is most rampant. An important fact showed in the article is that some do not consider children working in their family units as child labor. This may hinder any efforts to end such labor and to rescue these children.

4. The path of Innocence : Causes
http://library.thinkquest.org/trio/TTQ02189/causes.htm
The article also talks about the effects of child labor but on a wider scale. It includes the needs for businesses to make more profits by exploiting children and the lack of government protection to children who are some of the most vulnerable members of society.

5. New York Times : Underage Workers At Meat Plant
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/06/us/06meat.html
This article showcases a successful raid carried out at a meat plant in Iowa where child labor was being carried out. The findings were minors employed in prohibited occupations and working with prohibited tools such as knives and saws. The company employing these children could face fines of $500,000 to $1,000,000 if convicted on criminal charges. At least 24 underage workers were arrested in the raid an some of them spoke up about their working conditions. They said that they were forced to work long hours on night shifts and were not paid all of their overtime. They also worked with dangerous machines with no safety training.

6. Global March Against Child Labor
http://www.globalmarch.org/campaigns/
Some of the major campaigns against child labor are showed here. They include the Convention Campaign by the International labor Organization, "Keep Your Promises" to the world's children by the UN, the World Cup Campaign organized by FIFA and the South Asian March Against Child Trafficking. They all have played a major role in publicizing the plight of child laborers. They have also been at the forefront in ending it.

7. GHS News and Reports ; Traffic and Child Labor
http://vimeo.com/3036834
The video showcases some child laborers in India who have to sacrifice their education in order to work. It is presented by children who act as a voice for their fellow age mates trapped in child labor. The children reporters go into detail explaining the type of work done by children and they also interview some of these children. This could be a very powerful way of rescuing these children as it is information straight from the horse's mouth!

8. Companies Using Child Labor
http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Which_companies_use_child_labour
In this article, some of the major companies that use child labor are outlined and they include bigwigs such as Coca-cola, Adidas and McDonald's. Their main reason for using children is because it is cheap labor and they have been able to get massive profits by exploiting children. The article simply enlightens people on what companies to watch out for in terms of child labor.

9. In Defense of Child Labor
http://www.lewrockwell.com/archives/fm/05-90.html
This is a very controversial piece as it seeks to defend child labor. The writer argues that their is nothing wrong wit children doing 'hard work' and that governments should not interfere with this. The writer also says that if a child can play for 'too' many hours, then they can surely work for 'too' many hours as well. He backs up his ideas with evidence from the the pre-industrial revolution period where working in factories had saved children from starvation. The writer sees any laws against child labor as barriers to opportunities for children to acquire what the want and need by working for it.The article seems biased as the writer dos not put into consideration that children are still growing and therefore their bodies cannot handle the pressures of hard work and subjecting them to this may cause serious health problems. Also, children are legally under state protection and subjecting them to such dangers would be a violation of their rights.

10. How To Take Action To End Child Labor
http://www.wikihow.com/Take-Action-to-End-Child-Labor
Some steps to end child labor are outlined in this article and they include education as a major step and the establishment of government policies. Education deals with some of the main causes of child labor such as poverty and it is seen to be one of the major ways of ending poverty. The government is important in ending child labor as it has the power to come up with laws and make sure they are enforced.

11. Effects

http://www.indianchild.com/childlabor/effects-of-child-labor.htm
The article is about the various effects of child labor. It mainly focuses on these effects on Indian child laborers, as India is one of the countries with the highest rate of child labor in the world. The effects range from harmful physical and health effects to mental ones, where their confidence and self-esteem are negatively affected. A major effect is being denied education, which is important for every child's development.

12. The Path of Innocence: Effects
http://library.thinkquest.org/trio/TTQ02189/effects.htm
The article is a continuation of the effects of child labor and it includes a a major area which is the economy. In this case, business people are willing to employ children as they are paid less and therefore the companies acquire greater profits. They do not put the children's development needs into consideration. The article also gives examples of some children who have been slaves to child labor and have even been used as sex laborers. A history of the effects of child labor has also been given in the article.

Why is This a World Issue?

Child labor is a valid world issue as, firstly it affects some aspects of a growing and developing world. These aspects are the social and political factors. Children in most societies are seen as the future of that society, in that they are expected to continue with that society's traditions in future and to help the society grow. Therefore anything that comes in the way of this such as child labor can be seen to affect the whole well-being of that society.. Politically, children are also seen as leaders of tomorrow and are therefore an important part of the governing of a society. In a more global sense, children are catered for in the UN under the Rights of a Child. The UN is a worldwide body that is in one way or another connected to the countries Therefore the issues it caters for, such as children's rights,in most cases automatically become world issues.

How the Issue Has Evolved

Many efforts continue to be made in countries around the worl to end child labor, especially in India where it is most rampant.Internationally, the UN has been at the forefront to end child labor. For example, on May 10-11 2010 ILO, UNICEF and the Dutch Ministry of Social Affairs organized a conference to battle the worst forms of child labor. The UN also organized the Hague Conference in 2010 where the delegates approved a Road map aimed at "substantially increasing' global efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor by 2016.
The media has also been useful in bringing about changes involved with child labor. Child laborers and their struggles are shown through the media and in this way people become more aware of the situation and are in a better position to help change it for the better. An example of an organization that uses this approach is the International Labor Organization (ILO),that launched the Global Report "Accelerating action against child labor" . It calls for "better targeted advocacy" based on ''filling important knowledge gaps and making greater use of the media."
Campaigns against child labor have contributed significantly to its reduction. An example is Free the Children campaign, which uses education to try and end child labor in targeted areas. Allowing children to be children by giving them education and allowing them to play is one of the mottos used by this campaign. This approach is best explained by the words of Craig Kielburger who said "The change starts with each one of us, and ends only when all children are free to be children."
World Day Against Child Labor has also been put in place by ILO. The day highlights continuing challenges with child labor such as the millions of children involved in hazardous labor.
In India the government has taken steps to reduce child labor. The legal age for a child to start working for example has been increased to 6, whereas before, the government turned a blind eye to the many child laborers in the country. The punishments for those who use child laborers have also been hardened to discourage people from engaging in the practice.


Sides Involved and Their Viewpoints

a) The Children:
There are various sides involved in the issue of child labor. One of the most important ones is the children who work as laborers. In most places where child labor is rampant such as India, it occurs mostly due to poverty. Most children born into poverty see child labor as a necessity in order for them to survive. This may be due to tradition, in cases where their parents were also child laborers and they feel the need to continue the family tradition. In such situations, the children may not see the harm in doing such work as the parents may have told them that it is a necessity and a part of their lives. Most child laborers also see working as a sacrifice they have to make in order to be able to get the things they want such as toys and clothes.

b) The Parents:
Parents in poverty send their children to work in order to add to the family income. Partly due to ignorance and lack of education, some of them may not be aware of the physical and mental damages that hard labor could have on ttheir young children, such as respiratory diseases from working in dusty areas unprotected and loe self esteem, as the children cannot have what other children have such as a good education.
Some parents of child laborers are also easily swayed by corrupt businessmen who procure their children as child laborers..Such businessmen use gifts such as money in order to convince the parents to let their children go. They also lie to the parents that they will provide their children with education, but end up not doing this but instead mistreating them.

c) Governments:
Governments stand in a very powerful position in the issue of child labor as they can make laws and policies and have access to the resources to put these laws and policies into action. In the past some governments such as the Indian government turned a blind eye to child labor issues in their countries. They saw it as part of tradition of the country and did not want to break with it. Also, businessmen using child labor who had ties with government officials could easily influence the decisions and actions of these officials.However, international pressures forced such governments to put in place laws stopping child labor. They did so but only in theory, not much changed in terms of enforcing these laws. In recent years however, most of these governments , through globalization, education, powerful leaders and other things, have been able to actively been involved in the fights against child labor. They join many governments of the world who fund programs against child labor and put in place policies to fight it.They also hold conferences and meetings to come up with relevant ways of combating child labor.

d) The International Community:
At the forefront of this community is the UN, that has been in charge of many programs and campaigns against child labor, through ILO and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). The UN is against child labor in any form as it is a form of the violation of children's rights and human rights. The UN is therefore determined to end child labor in all its forms and has been successful in some parts of the world, through its campaigns, such as the international campaign against child labor in Mexico launched by ILO.


Interconnected Web

Economic:
At the root of this issue is poverty, in most case. In this context, poverty may be describes as the lack of resources and is therefore an economic issue. Most families who put their children through child labor do so in order to add to their family incomes and cater to their basic needs such as food clothing. Also, some businessmen actually 'buy' children's labor from their parents in exchange for a small fee which mostly goes directly to the parents. Such businessmen do this in order to improve their economic positions in society and in order to make more profit. This is made possible as they can pay the children very little without them complaining Children also do not demand working rights, therefore they become very easy to exploit for economic gains.
Also in order to set up programs and campaigns to end child labor there needs to bee sufficient funds, and this is directly an economic thing.

Social:
Child labor is also a social issue, as children form a core part of any society and are seen to be future of any such society. Therefore any issues affecting them also in turn affect society. Orphaned children get into child labor as they have no other means of providing for themselves. The lack of structures in society such as children's homes to cater for such children pushes them into child labor. Other social services than can help these children include counseling services and school.
These children also go through psychological trauma and may have low self esteem as they do not have what other children have. They are exposed to problems far beyond their age and this takes a toll on their mental health. Physically, some are forced to work jobs that are too hard and heavy for them and they end up getting injuries or diseases.

Political:
In order to end child labor, in most cases there needs to be laws and policies put in place. There also needs to be enforicng powers in order to bring about such change. This is where the political aspect of this issue comes in. Governments are mostly responsible for setting up such laws and policies and police officers mostly have the responsibility of enforcing them. Such parties are therefore very important in order for child labor to end.
Corruption in such institutions also severely affect the success of initiatives to end child labor. This is because embezzlement of funds deprives these initiatives of the much needed funds and the children end up suffering.Internationally, various governments and organizations have come together through he UN in order to fight child labor. They have joined their efforts and have come up with common strategies to end this issue. They have also exchanged ideas on how to do this and this is a good example of how this issue can be dealt with from a political standpoint.