Global social issues are matters that can only seek explanation by factors that are beyond an individual’s control and immediate social environment. Social issues are matters which affect most of the individuals in a society. Some of the social issues that had been affecting the society are issues like poverty, child labor, violence, crime, equality, suppression of human rights and many others. These issues had been known for several decades and usually had been revolving around conflicting viewpoints between many people who had taken different stances.
It is important for everybody to be familiar of what is really meant by ‘child labor’. By understanding the definition of ‘child labor’ we would be able to determine the real violations of one of the seriously studied social issue which is child labor. Child labor has a general definition of “harmful and exploitative works for children may it be performed physically, mentally or morally”. However, it was debated that not all worked performed by children may be considered to exploit them or could be harmful for them. For example, a child who sells newspaper before going to school may be viewed as a beneficial experience for him. Why? It is because the child will gain experience of selling newspaper that would make him more responsible and will also give him some money that he could spent at school. But what if the child does not get paid for selling newspapers? This is the situation wherein we could consider child labor is being implemented. One of the definitions given by the Unicef’s 1997 State of the World’s Children Report is that a situation could only be considered child labor if the works performed by the child is becoming a hindrance for him in his schooling, recreation and rest. It is noted that the works that should be performed by a child in order to not consider it as child labor should not interfere with the child’s development (The State of the World’s Children, 1997).
The United Nation’s Children’s Fund (UNICEF) (2006) reported that there is an estimated two hundred and eighteen million (218 M) children who are engaged in child labor. Among the 218 M population, one hundred and twenty six million of these children are engaged in labor in different hazardous environments such as mine works, agriculture works involving pesticides and chemicals, or some cig machinery works. It was also reported that because of child labor, millions of girls who are engaged in the different fields of labor are being vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. A large portion of the population of the children involved in child labor are being forced to debt bondage and slavery, forced to prostitution and other forms of child slavery and other illegal works. A large portion of the population (70%) of the children who are engaged in child labor is being concentrated in agriculture (The United Nation’s Children’s Fund, 2006). Moreover, regional estimates also indicates that regions located in the Asia and Pacific had the largest number of children who are engaged in child labor with an estimated of 127.3 million children. The work age groups of these children are in the range between five to fourteen years old. In the Saharan region, there is an estimated of forty eight million children engaged in child labor. There is an estimated seventeen million child workers in the Latin America and the Caribbean. In North Africa and Middle East, a lower percentage of child labor is reported with just fifteen percent of the overall population of children in the region (International Labor Organization, 2007)..
Theories to the solutions
The International Labor Organization had been doing its job in finding and implementing solutions to the problems involving the child labor issue. The International Labor Organization Program for the Elimination of Child Labor is one of the projects that had been aiming to take part in solving the problems of child labor. One of the solutions that had been introduced by the International Labor Organization IPEC was to increase family incomes (Images of Child Labor, 2007). This solution involves all the families especially the parents in order for it to be a successful solution. Although it is quite difficult to assure that family income will be increased, it would be possible to achieve this if the cooperation of some of the large and small industries will be demanded. Why? It is in these large and small companies where the parents of these children are working so it is necessary for them to be included in the problem solving of child labor. If the companies will agree to increase the salary of the workers, child labor would apparently be decreased because poverty in the family will also be decreased. Poverty is an important reason for these children to work, yet, sometimes, they are not being able to be paid exactly the amount they should be paid, then, and child labor will be the charge of this situation. Another solution of the ILO IPEC is that legal protection should be given to every children identified to be engaged in child labor (International Labor Organization, 2007). This could be done by the implementation of the checking and monitoring of the mines and queries, and other agricultural fields to be able to make sure that they are not employing children in their business. Moreover, legal actions are given to the people who are caught and proven to be the initiators of child labor. In this solution, the involved parties will be the agencies involved for inspection and the different mines, queries and agricultural businesses. In this sense, it will be easier to seek success because the thorough and serious operation of the agencies involved for inspection and monitoring of child labor is just concentrated to two parties. Another solution for the problem of child labor is for the government to provide social services (Images of Child Labor, 2007). The social services will be ale to help the families to cope up with poverty and in this situation they will not be able to force their children to work instead of sending them to school. Social services will also cater the needs of the families who are homeless and to those parents who had lost their jobs and are already jobless. This solution could be a success if the implementation of the concerned agencies for social services will be systematized. Usually these agencies are the ones creating the problem in the implementation because sometimes they are not able to have a systematized way of implementation.
Child labor is a serious social problem of world today. Many solutions had already been provided by different agencies yet; there is still an increasing trend in the number of children involved in child labor. For me, child labor could be effectively implemented if everybody will be able to play his role in preventing it to happen.
The State of the World’s Children Report (1997). UNICEF’s 1997 State of the World’s Children Report. UNICEF
US Dept. of Labor’s By The Sweat and Toil of Children, Vol. VI: An Economic Consideration of Child Labor.
The United Nation’s Children’s Funds (UNICEF). (2006). Child Protection Sheet; Child Labor. Retrieved October 4, 2007 < http://www.unicef.org/protection/files/Child_Labour.pdf>.
International Labor Organization (2007). Child Labor. Retrieved October 4, 2007 < http://www.ilo.org/global/Themes/Child_Labour/lang–en/index.htm>
U.S. International Child Labor Program, United States Bureau of International Labor Affairs (2002). By the Sweat & Toil of Children Volume VI: an Economic Consideration of Child Labor
Psacharopoulos, G. (1997). Child Labor versus Educational Attainment: Some Evidence from Latin America. Journal of Population Economics 10 (1997) 379.
Cunningham, H & Viazzo, P. (eds,). (1996). Child abour in Historical Perspective, 1800-1985: Case Studies from Europe, Japan and Columbia.
Images of Child Labor. (2007). Child Labor; Frequently Asked Questions. Child Labor and the Global Village:Photography for Social Change. Retreived October 5, 2007 < http://www.childlaborphotoproject.org/childlabor.html>