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Child labour: only one side of the coin

Currently, this scourge affects around 168 million victims in the world, of those, 85 million carry out dangerous and hazardous work, according to data from the International Labour Organization (ILO).


Social niños infancia familia pixabayTeyuné Díaz Díaz


In the context of the 106th International Labour Conference, 5-16th June, the World Day Against Child Labour was marked with some 25 world events to stress the importance of supporting minors, the most defenceless.

Before the date, the Director General of the ILO, Guy Rider, emphasised that in situations of conflict or catastrophes, minors are the most vulnerable as their homes, schools and means of living are frequently destroyed and social and family protection systems break down, which increases the risks linked to child labour and human trafficking.

Facing the greatest refugee crisis in decades, he said, it is essential to share responsibilities and solidarity with the aim of protecting all the children of the world, to give them an education, rekindle their hopes and give them the chance to have a better future. All this, for the sake of avoiding cases of minors recruited as soldiers in wars, employed as spies or sexually exploited and abused, said Ryder.

childe infancia niñez 2 pixabayFollowing the ILO’s call, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) joined in, also urging the integration of child labour into agricultural programmes, food and nutrition security that deal with crises and disasters.

To mark the date, the FAO presented a guide to prevent child labour in conflicts and disasters, a 26-page guide that analyses the performance of minors in agriculture in these prolonged, fragile and humanitarian contexts. According to estimates from this organisation, globally 100 million children and young people are harmed every year by natural disasters; 230 million live in areas affected by armed conflict; and of the 168 million child labourers, around 98 million participate in agricultural tasks, as members of the family and without being paid.

Generally, “child labour” usually refers to all work that deprives little ones of their childhood, potential and dignity, and is damaging to their physical and psychological development, but their description and eradication will depend on the countries’ objectives.

libros children kid niños volar pixabayIn their most extreme forms, children are subjected to situations of slavery, separation from their families, exposure to serious dangers and illnesses and/or abandoned to fend for themselves in the street of big cities (frequently at a very early age).

Another of the most violent derivations of child labour is the offer of children in prostitution; the realisation of illicit activities, such as drug production and trafficking; in short, all work that by its nature is likely to damage the health, security or morality of the children.

An element to bear in mind is that all the tasks carried out by minors beyond their means, will affect their health in the future with the probable shortening of their life expectancy. However, not all jobs carried out by infants should be classed as child exploitation. According to experts, child and adolescent participation in jobs that do not affect their health and personal development or interfere with their education, are considered positive.

These activities can be help given to their parents in the household, working in a family business, jobs done outside of school hours or during holidays to earn pocket money.

Analysts refer to this type of action as beneficial for child development, because it gives them qualifications and experience and helps to prepare them to be productive members of society as adults.

Children and PixabayFrom the global point of view, child labour is considered as a violation of international rights and United Nations conventions, including the ILO Conventions on the topic and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Additionally, its eradication has been contemplated within the goals of the Sustainable Development Objectives with the intention of eliminating child exploitation in all forms by 2025. However, all these international actions must be jointly supported by governments to be able to guarantee children a world with a labour exploitation-free childhood. (PL)

Fotos: Pixabay  – (Translated by Donna Davison. Email:

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