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Child labour as a social crime

The latest global estimates indicates that the number of children in child labour has increased to 160 million worldwide, with 8.4 million being recorded in…

The latest global estimates indicates that the number of children in child labour has increased to 160 million worldwide, with 8.4 million being recorded in the last four years.  Sixty-three million girls and 97 million boys were in child labor globally at the beginning of 2020.  

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) defines child labour as work that deprives children of their childhood, potential and dignity. It is the exploitation of children through any form of work that interferes with their ability to attend regular school and is mentally, physically, socially and morally harmful.  

The earliest history of child labour involved families needing help to do chores would normally pass off work to the children. Child labour goes beyond children assisting their parents with chores or tasks.  

Child labour could be dated back to the transatlantic slave trade – which lasted three centuries starting in 1562-. Civil war, Industrial Revolution (the transition from creating goods by hand to using machines) around 1750 in Europe and US also encouraged child labour. During the industrial revolution, children were employed by industries and plantation owners and were often forced to crawl inside machines in order to proffer solutions in exchange for food, clothing and shelter, which were often far below par. There are several ways child labour is being committed- enslavement, sales and trafficking of children, forced recruitment of children for use in armed conflicts, abusing children for prostitution, using children for drug trafficking and other illicit activities, hazardous works that causes injury or moral corruption, domestic work, farming. 

Unfortunately, victims of child labour usually suffer from depression and anxiety, pushing them to destructive habits like smoking, alcoholism, drug abuse. Children will be fatigued for school work and unable to recall learned experiences. Also, children who are forced into child labour are at greater risk for malnourishment and death.  

In order to eliminate child labour, government should tackle the issue of poverty. Poverty is the major reason for child labour. The government should set up programmes that will substantially reduce the poverty level in the country. Also, there’s a need for formulation and implementation of strict laws.  

Schooling may be expensive or less standard and some parents think sending their children to work is the best. However, the government can build and equip more schools, thereby making education easily accessible. Eliminating child labour does not mean children will attend school. Government should also sensitise parents on the purpose and importance of child education.  

Aregbesola Oreoluwa Ololade wrote from Lagos 

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