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Tanzi Gill

UnderGraduate - BBA,

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What are the ways to fight child labor and what will be its effects on those children?

I am against child labor. Every child has a right to be educated however most of these children work to support their families and to survive in this harsh economy. But sadly current educational system isl too slow. These children don't have time or sources to depend on until their education is paid off. {This was talked in detail by Charles Leadbeater http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/charles_leadbeater_on_education.html }

However child labor is harsh because they are underpaid and some of them are even ill treated. So my question has two parts:

1) How do we fight or at least improve current child labor issue?
2) Even if the fight against child labor is won; aren't we in a way taking away their right to earn money to support their families and themselves? We may force large corporations in first world countries to end this madness but who supports those children then? The unreliable Governments or the corporations who no longer feel responsible for these children since they aren't their employees anymore? Or their parents who may get too desperate that they might sell their children which is a common practice in under developed countries.

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  • Nov 19 2011: Answer 1......Enacting laws may be a first step but societal changes may also be required in certain cultures and lastly economics (if poor) can make a huge difference. The latter requires investment.
    Answer 2....If you win the battle in total above there are no problems earning money. Secondly while I can certainly say there are undoubtedly companies that employ child labor I would strongly suspect these ARE NOT American companies. They more probably are independent "LOCAL" business owners who take contracts for a product. Now how could I possibly guess this. I set up many plants personally around the world and never did I or any of the other plant managers employ child labor and that is a survey of at least 50 plants. As for who supports them if you enforce large corporations to end this "madness" presuming you mean that the company would move and seek another location where they could exploit child labor? If so let me simply tell you that (and please check) all the 3rd world operations of American manufacturers are listed on their websites. You can then check by simply asking a local social worker or government official if that is true. Also very few move unless the political climate is unstable.

    And here's the problem.....you may have heard or read or even seen on TV some horrible situation but bear in mind that the media reports murder, horror, war and a lot of other crap that is not representative of what goes on daily. Most of us work, eat, sleep and try to get some pleasure daily. What I see, as a by product of this reporting methodology is that it also creates an impression that is not universally true. You reference a TED talk that is reflective of the government or social conditions children live in, the lack of education and what he poses might be solutions. I don't understand how this fits with big corporations not exploiting children. Here's the challenge I present you...give me the names of ten "big' corporations that exploit children.
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      Nov 22 2011: I will agree with you media loves dramatizing a lot of things. I'd also like to remind you my intention is not to shift blames on different factors. And neither is the focus on "American" companies for that matter. I will also agree with you on the fact that in reality it is independent local businesses that hire children.

      But even if int'l companies aren't "actively" taking part in child labor but that still doesn't change the fact that the end product of child labor still goes back to the "real" companies. So there's an "ethical responsibility" to this issue. And there are lot cases where companies took the product off the shelf or tried to tinker with their operational part to avoid child labor.

      Finally i wasn't questioning why do large corporations hire children and how do we "make them pay" for their part. My concern was how do we make this situation better and if we take away these children's earning power, it won't actually help the children.
      • Nov 23 2011: I agree with everything you mention except the last statement. First if child labor is forbidden, in theory adults would be hired. Given adults have families the money trickles down. This assumes that the company stays in the county. Given they are local companies that would seem likely. But child labor is not necessarily negative in the right circumstances. As example that would be kids be as janitors in their schools. It also teaches a work ethic, provides some income, hopefully gives them some pride and is a step towards working as an adult..

        With respect to the larger companies not doing business with local companies many of the larger companies have taken steps and when it's brought to their attention via media pressure they back away fairly quickly. Does that mean all do.....no. Does it mean they check all the companies they
        do business with......no. Is that their responsibility......no. And in the reality is it's up to the government of that country (elected by the people of that country. That issue is not simple since, even in a democratic country democracy must evolve and continue to evolve (the latter typically does not happen at the pace needed to address all issues or even stay current with the needs of it's citizen's unfortunately.....the USA is a current glaring example despite the tens of thousands of laws and legislation - and I live here.

        Making it better can be as simple as a sign that says, this company employs child labor and a short video on the Internet. Distributing the link to the media, the responsible government, the company itself as well as the company it sells to might well resolve a percentage of the issues. At a minimum it exposes the situation. That is the simplest idea. There are obviously many more Ghandi type approaches. The real problem is the citizens of the country must be responsible in the final analysis for themselves. In the USA it took over 200 years before child labor was abolished.
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    Nov 15 2011: Appreciated your views Vivienne. In fact I agree with your "transitional" approach.

    Your view even made me realize another issue. Most of the children reject education for the following reasons:

    1) As you said suddenly requiring children to go to school instead of working is only going to create resistance.
    2) The current education model predominantly depends more on rote than on critical thinking and analytic skills. And we are talking about children who are living in harsh conditions which means they're trained themselves to depend on their analytic and critical thinking skills to survive. So forcing them on this "rote" model is hardly going to be effective. After all these are creative children in a way.

    In my opinion, while we try to revolutionize our educational system, we can use and should use this transitional approach to at least make them accept education as a norm.

    Thanks for sharing and also learnt a few new words from your reply. :)
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    Nov 15 2011: I find it interesting to note there is a strengthening body of International law protecting the rights of the child - yet there appears a paucity of prosecutions and cases against child abuse and labour at this level.

    I think the reasons for this is deeply ingrained in individual cultural norms and practices. This was reflected in a comment by Jeffrey Sachs who advised child labour in developing countries was acceptable - as it was the way of survival.

    To turn around these archaic belief systems that have remained from patriarchal slave societies (as with other supposed religious practices such as female circumcision) is not an easy task - because there are so many contributing and complex factors. Yet one way is to start with 'transitional' education that is acceptable to the society of practise. What I mean is - a radical turn of 'no more forced labour' in a community that relies on children working through enforcement creates resistance and prolongs the change. To suddenly require all children to go to school instead of working - is the major resistance factor. Strategies that are transitional - that bring a levelling usually are more successful - such as bringing in education requirements that do not entirely impact on the child's requirement to work. Over time it becomes accepted that education is the cultural practise and norm for that society's children. Additionally to educate the parents of these societies to understand that their children may have better opportunities as young adult breadwinners from education is a good driver to start with. It's important to note that the first world laws on child slavery and labour (i.e. British common law) grew over time and generations after attitudinal change of the cultures. There is a great pressure on third world cultures to rapidly rise to a compliance that has taken other societies many generations to arrive at. This creates impact, can lead to conflict & reprisal. Yet enforced protection is valid.