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World Day Against Child Labor: 7 Types to Know in the 21st Century

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On World Day Against Child Labor, we’re reminded that in 2020, 1 in 10 children aged 5 and over were involved in child labor worldwide. This equates to an estimated 160 million children, or 63 million girls and 97 million boys. This is according to the International Labor Organization (ILO.)

Let’s look at child labor in detail, including its various types.

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What is Child Labor?

Child labor occurs when a child is exploited and forced to work against their will, robbing them of their childhood and education.

In their early developmental years, children are particularly vulnerable to injuries caused by child labor. Despite the fact that physical and mental health problems may not become evident for years, they still exist.

The International Labour Organization defines child labor as “work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential, and their dignity and that harms physical and mental development.”

It’s crucial to note that not all work done by children is child labor. Exceptions include activities that contribute to a child’s positive development and provide them with the skills and experience they need to become productive citizens. 

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7 Types Of Child Labor to Know in the 21st Century

A young girl under child labor. Image source: Freepik licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
A young girl under child labor. Image source: Freepik licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Slavery

The most common form of child labor is slavery. The phenomenon occurs when a child is given out to another person in the form of an ownership agreement. And they’re forced to work without having any say over what happens to them. 

From their capture, purchase, or birth, slaves are frequently sold against their will and aren’t given the option of leaving or quitting their jobs. 

Children are no exception. They’re frequently sold into slavery because their families are unable to pay off their debts. Thus to escape their financial burdens, they sell their children who work for years to pay off their family’s debt.

Child trafficking

While child slavery is unfortunate, child trafficking is heartbreaking. It refers to the illegal trading in the form of the buying, selling, and movement of children for labor or sexual exploitation. 

People traffic children for many reasons, including forced labor, prostitution, and recruitment as child soldiers and beggars.

Debt Bondage

Among the various forms of child labor is debt bondage, where a child is exchanged to pay off loans that their parents or guardians can’t pay off with money or goods. 

For example, a poor family may hand over their child to someone to pay off their debt. So the child will have to work for years until the debt is cleared.

Forced Labor

When a child is made to work against their wishes, we can call that forced labor. For example, during a war, children are forced to fight on war fronts or work as cooks, porters, and messengers. 

In some situations, children are forced to work in illegal mining, large plantations, or robbery against their will. Most often, these children are abused and exploited, and they are often forced to kill or hurt others.

Around 60% of child laborers are in agriculture worldwide. Child labor streams mainly from poverty and, many times, from family farming. Though child labor is perceived to be evident only in Africa, it can be seen on farms in America.

Sexual Exploitation

A young girl curled up on a bed. Image source: Freepik licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
World Day Against Child Labour
A young girl curled up on a bed. Image source: Freepik licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

This may happen in the form of prostitution, or pornographic performances. In situations of sexual exploitation, children are abused by people for personal gain and profit. These children, especially girls, are forced to exchange their bodies for money.

Additionally, both in developing and industrialized nations, children may be bought and sold into slavery or marriage. These frequently take place when young people are abducted, trafficked across borders, and then sold to serve as prostitutes in other nations. 

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Both immediate and long-term consequences of this type of child labor are severe. Children are particularly vulnerable to physical abuse, malnutrition, and Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs). Children find it very challenging to escape this situation and to cope with the physical and mental effects of what they have gone through.

Illicit Activities

Additionally, kids are coerced into carrying out illegal activities like growing and/or trafficking drugs, shoplifting, auto theft, and begging for cash.

The motivation for those who voluntarily participate is the expectation of financial and social advancement. Drug abuse is very common among children who traffic drugs, and many of them start using drugs when they are very young.

Most often, parents force their kids to scrounge for alms from onlookers. They are usually starved and beaten if they don’t make enough money throughout the day.

In organized behavior, people use kids who are on the streets, runaways, or living in poverty. Children are sometimes intentionally disfigured to attract more money from passers-by, and they may be beaten if they don’t manage to collect enough money.

Children involved in illicit activities are often exposed to violence, which can severely affect their mental and physical development. 

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Serfdom

This situation explains when a child is forced to live and work on land belonging to another person, often with little or no pay.

How to Observe World Day Against Child Labor

An adult supporting a child. Image source: Freepik licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
World Day Against Child Labour
An adult supporting a child. Image source: Freepik licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Support a Child

Children are still growing; hence, they need our support to make sound decisions. They also long to be pampered, cared for, and encouraged. The World Day Against Child Labor is an excellent opportunity to make a child feel special in any way through your support.

Spread Awareness

You can also participate in World Day Against Child Labor by helping the International Labor Organization’s efforts to abolish child labor through public awareness of the need to do so. You can go further to educate adults who are unaware of the dangers of child labor. 

Donate Resources

You can support vulnerable children by making a financial contribution to your neighborhood government or civic organizations, even if it may be impossible to physically intervene. You can aid the fight against child labor in many ways, from the provision of medical treatment and legal assistance to the search for missing children.

Observing World Day Against Child Labor serves as a touching reminder of the urgent need to eliminate child labor worldwide. It’s a day that raises awareness of the plight of the numerous children who are denied their childhood, education, and fundamental rights. 

Despite the fact that child labor has decreased, there is still much to be done to completely eradicate this form of social injustice. 

You can impact the campaign by educating those around you on the various types of child labor and why it should be stopped. By increasing awareness and working together, we can build a society in which every child has the chance to develop, learn, and thrive, free from the shackles of child labor.

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Sedi Djentuh
Sedi Djentuh
Hey, Sedi here, a content writer. She's fascinated by the interplay between people, lifestyle, relationships, tech and communication dedicated to empowering and spreading positive messages about humanity. She's an avid reader and a student of personal weekly workouts. When she's not writing, Sedi is busy advocating for plastic-free earth with her local NGO.

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