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of workshops/factories, hidden from view in sugarcane plantations, unsafe in the production of pyrotechnics, collecting garbage from households, risking their lives in the streets selling newspapers and cigarettes, hopping from one jeepney to another to wipe our shoes and beg for alms afterwards, experiencing malnutrition, can be seen asleep in the coldness of the earth provided with carton papers as their beds, paying their ancestors’ debts in some big haciendas, working for their families in the rice farm, diving for pearls in the ocean/seas of the archipelago, involved in mining and quarrying in some places, demoralized and prostituted at young age… “ They aren’t worthy of these misfortunes. It refers to the illegal employment of children below 18 years of age in hazardous occupations. Underage children are being forced to manual labor to help their families mainly due to poverty. Labor has many ill effects in children who are supposed to be in the environment of a classroom rather than roaming the streets to earn money. Although most do get the privilege of education, most of them end up being dropouts and repeaters because they are not able to focus on their studies. Because of child labor, children suffer from malnutrition, hampered growth, and improper biological development. The use of child labor was not regarded a social problem until the introduction of the factory system. Child Labor is most concentrated in Asia and Africa, which together account for more than 90% of total children employment. Though there are more child workers in Asia than anywhere else, a higher percentage of African children participate in the labor force. Asia is led by India which has 44 million child laborers, diving it the largest child workers are between the ages of 10 – 14 yrs. old (1991). Nigeria has 12 million child workers. Child labor is also common in South America. For example, there are 7 million children working in Brazil (ILO 1992). Though restrictions on child labor exist in most nations, many children do work. This vulnerable state leaves them prone to exploitation. The International Labour Office reports that children work the longest hours and are the worst paid of all the laborers (Bequele and Boyden 1988). They endure work conditions which include health hazards and potential abuse. Employers capitalize on the docility of the children recognizing that these laborers cannot legally form unions to change their conditions. Such manipulation stifles the development of youth. Their working conditions do not provide the stimulation for physical and mental development. Finally, these children are deprived of the simple joys of childhood, relegated instead to a life of drudgery. However, there are problems with the obvious solution of abolishing child labor. First, there is no international agreement defining child labor. Countries not only have different minimum age work restrictions, but also have varying regulations based on the type of labor. This makes the
limits of child labor very ambiguous. Most would agree that a six year old is too young to work, but whether the same can be said about a twelve year old is debatable. Problems with the intuitive solution of immediately abolishing child labor to prevent such abuse are first, there is no international agreement defining labor, making it hard to isolate cases of abuse, let alone abolish them. Second, many children may have to work in order to attend school so abolishing child labor may only hinder their education. Any plans of abolishment depend on schooling. Also, there must be an economic change in the condition of a struggling family to free a child from the responsibility of working. Until there is global agreement which can isolate cases of child labor, it will be very hard to abolish. There is also the view that work can help a child in terms of socialization, in building self – esteem and for training (Collins 1983). The problem is, then, not child labor itself but the conditions under which it operates (Boyden 1991). CHILD WORK VERSUS CHILD LABOR Child work refers to the children’s participation in economic activity – that does not negatively affect their health and development or interferes with education, can be positive. Work that does not interfere with education (light work) is permitted from the age of 12 years under the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 138. Child labor is more narrowly defined and refers to children working in contravention of the above standards. This means all children below 12 years old of age working in any economic activities, those aged 12 to 14 years engaged in harmful work, and all children engaged in the worst forms of child labor. Worst forms of child labor involves children being enslaved, forcibly recruited, trafficked, forced into illegal activities and exposed to hazardous work. CHILD LABOR IN THE PHILIPPINE SETTING The Philippines is literally a young nation with a high percentage of young people in its overall population. And the child labor problem in the Philippines is a serious one. According to the National Statistics Office survey, there are about 4 million working children in the country today. Of the 4 million, 2.4 million are engaged in hazardous work, which means that they are exposed to chemical, physical and biological hazards. These are the children involved in the worst forms of child labor such as prostitution, domestic work, mining and quarrying, commercial agriculture, deep – sea fishing and pyrotechnics production. The following are the more salient figures in the survey:
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Four out of 25 million children, ages 5 – 17, are working. This means that one out of 6 works Mostly male, elementary grader (between 10 – 17 years old), usually rural – based Region IV has the highest incidence of child labor (12.5%); next is region VI (11.8%); and Region XI (10.2%) Majority work as unskilled, unpaid, engaged in agriculture, on seasonal basis laborers One of four children work during night time 60% of working children, aged 5 – 17 years old are exposed to hazardous environment. 40% are elementary graduates; 32% reached high school; 3% never attended school 59% are unpaid, work in household – operated farm or business 53% in agriculture / forestry / hunting
Child labor is the participation of children in the creation of products like sugarcane, pineapple, sardines or firecrackers or provision of services like domestic help and sexual labor. They are everywhere but invisible, toiling as domestic servants in homes, laboring behind the walls of workshops/factories, hidden from view in sugarcane plantations, unsafe in the production of pyrotechnics, collecting garbage from households, risking their lives in the streets selling newspapers and cigarettes, hopping from one jeepney to another to wipe our shoes and beg for alms afterwards, experiencing malnutrition, can be seen asleep in the coldness of the earth provided with carton papers as their beds, paying their ancestors’ debts in some big haciendas, working for their families in the rice farm, diving for pearls in the ocean/seas of the archipelago, involved in mining and quarrying in some places, demoralized and prostituted at young age… They aren’t worthy of these misfortunes. In Metro Manila and neighboring towns, most child laborers are found in factories, livestock industries like poultry farms and piggery. They often come from the provinces. In many cases, they live like convicts, incarcerated and without the freedom of movement. Young workers in the farm are made to sleep inside pigpen or poultry house together with the animals. In the Visayas and Mindanao, child labor is rampant in sugarcane, pineapple, rubber, and asparagus plantations. A significant number of child laborers can be found in sugar plantations in Tarlac. These children are directly exposed to the elements like the sun and rains, their growth is stunted because of the heavy load they carry on their shoulders. Malnutrition is common among child laborers.
Child labor, especially the hazardous kind is a scourge. It must be eliminated at all cost, and the children must be saved from misery. FACTORS CAUSING THE PROBLEM OF CHILD LABOR Poverty is the primary cause of child labor in the developing countries like the Philippines. Children work to ensure the survival of their family and themselves. Though children are not well paid, they still serve as major contributors to family income in the developing countries. Children are often prompted to work by their parents. According to one study, parents represent 62% of the source of induction into employment. Children make their own decisions to work only 8% of the time (Syed et. al. 1991). In fact, a possible reason parents in developing countries have children is because they can be profitable of their children. Children seem to be much less of an economic burden in developing versus developed countries. Children in developing countries also contribute more time to households than they deplete as compared to their counterparts in developed countries (Lindert 1976). Therefore, parents in developing countries make use of children’s ability to work. Evidence suggests that parents have children based on a cost – benefit perspective. Children in developing countries tend to be of economic value and, as a result, become a desirable asset for struggling parents. This desire also leads to the increase of the population that is also one of the factors causing child labor. Schooling problems also contribute to child labor. Many times children seek employment because there is no access to schools possibly because of the distance or worse yet there are no schools at all. When there is access, the low quality of the education often makes attendance a waste of time for the students. Schools in many developing areas suffer from problems such as overcrowding, lack of resources, inadequate sanitation and pathetic teachers. As a result, parents may find no use of sending their children to school when they could be home learning a skill, farming for example and supplementing the family income. Because parents have so much control over their children, their perception of the value of school is a main determinant of child attendance. Parents who are educated understand for themselves the importance of schooling from personal experience. School attendance by a child is also highly correlated with family income. Therefore, when children drop out of school, it is not necessarily because of irresponsible parenting; it may be due to the family’s financial situation. When these children leave school, they become potential workers. Traditional factors are also important. The established female role in certain countries dictates that women will not fit into traditional roles if they become educated. Such cultural practices restrict the education of females and promote child employment. The acceptance of social class participation perpetuates child labor as well.
Often parents assign different roles into their children. This has been called child specialization, and may increase the number of working children. This phenomenon involves certain siblings going to school while the others work. Rapid rural – to – urban migration is the cause for the increasing rate of child labor in the urban areas of the developing countries. Families leave the severity of agricultural working conditions for cities in order to search for economic opportunities that often do not exist. Unchecked growth of population – rapid growth of population adds up to the enormous number of working children here in the Philippines. Parents keep on having children who would then be working for the family just to have some food on their table during meals and feed their empty stomachs. Another problem with the complete abolition of child labor is that education and employment for children are not mututally exclusive. Many children work and go to school. In fact, many children have to work to go to school, otherwise, they could not afford the tuition and other fees associated with attendance. Family structure research shows that 75% of the working children are products of broken families. There are no parents to take care of them, feed them, provide them with their first education and their needs so they won’t need to roam around the streets and do pathetic works to earn money. COMMUNICATION PROBLEMS – OBJECTIVES Lack of Acceptance – the advocates inform the parents about the issue on child labor, if they would not accept it because of their orientation that the younger their children work the better because their children are being trained at an early age, it would be considered as a communication problem regarding the lack of acceptance. This happens both in urban and rural areas. Lack of Participation – people may find it less interesting to attend seminars with regards to the issue, the employers would probably be in denial when accused violating, some of the parents who are supposedly the ones to protect their children turned out to be the ones to push their kids into work, then, even the children involved in the issue are not participating because of they fear of losing their jobs. Lack of Access – refers to the lack of access to the information / campaign because of some factors like the distance, the distribution of IEC material, etc. Lack of Knowledge – people may then have access to the campaign in their community, but it is also possible that these people are illiterate or couldn’t understand the materials,
Lack of Awareness – the government has numerous projects on child labor, but the communities aren’t aware of these. • Comm. Objectives:
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