Child labour, despite the misgivings that many people have about it, has many benefits which have been overlooked. These benefits yield substantial positive change to society and individuals, and therefore child labour should not be looked with disdain.
Child labour is looked down upon in many cultures, and in the western world, it is viewed as something akin to a taboo. However, this perception is based on the relatively good economic conditions that exist in western countries, and the established social culture where children are expected and required to be schooling for the better part of their childhood. This is in contrast to other cultures where economic advancement is at its lowest and educational opportunities are dependent on the financial status and ability of the family that a child is born into. This paper will argue that child labour has its advantages, despite the many misgivings that many people have against it. Child labour refers to the employment of children in any manner that is detrimental to their development. It can be said to be employment of children that leads to interference of the children’s’ childhood, ability to attend school regularly and that it causes physical, social and moral harm (International Labour organization, 2012). Child labour is considered as been exploitative by most of the world organizations. This is because it also involves abuse of the children, child slavery, child trafficking, forced labour, debt bondage, minimum wages and other illicit activities.
Throughout the history of mankind, children have been used to provide labour for the family as well as for the national governments. The economist (2005) noted that worldwide agriculture is the largest employer of children. This was therefore in the rural areas and among the urban poor. This paper seeks to determine the benefits of child labour to both individual as well as national level. The benefits of child labour to them as well as the government outweigh the negative effects.
In almost every country there exist gaps in the economic prowess of different social classes. This gap contributes a lot to child labour in that; those children from the poor families do not have any other survival mechanisms other than to seek employment at a tender age. Poverty and lack of school in such a scenario is taken as the driving force to child employment (ILO, United Nations 2008). Therefore it would be inevitable in this case for the children to stay idle but they have to strive to feed their poor families. Taking for example in India, most of the poor families live by the earnings from the children. Therefore, child labour does indeed contribute positively to the incomes of families who would otherwise have no source of income.
In some cultures, child labour comes into being due to the cultural belief that work is good for character building and imparting of skills. Therefore the children are required to participate in many informal economic activities and small business enterprises that are run by families in order to learn the skills which were learnt by their parents. It is true that these skills are necessary for survival of the children in future. For example the Amish community in the US believe that the best way to teach a child is through job(the economist) and have since received legal backing allowing them to place their children on active jobs between age 14 and 18. The children who work in India’s glass industry and other industries gains skills and experiences which may not be learnt in the formal education system. Child labour is thus advantageous because it imparts into young individuals a culture of working hard and taking responsibility for life actions.
The use of child labour is very cheap. It therefore drive down the production expenses in the companies and hence maximization of profits. This is the basic and ultimate goal in any business and economic terms (Craig, Jamie 2009). The availability of cheap labour can stimulate industrial growth and enable a country to compete successfully with other nations. A great part of India’s economy can be attributed to this cheap child labour which is readily available. Child labour therefore, when used in the human proportions will result in the reduction of costs.
The world population is growing at much faster rates than ever before. The result is more children been born to the poor families which any not be able to support them through school. Although many governments have tried to offer free basic education, the end results is that the huge number of children with basic education may not continue in further educational and gain the required skills to get formal employment. Therefore left with no option, the children must find means of survival and gathering of experience which can improve their living. They can as well join the labour force purely to gain experience that relates to their future endeavors.
Although there are numerous disadvantages to child labour, there is lack of better alternatives to it. It would be better to allow the children to earn a living in a more ‘legitimate’ way than to stop them. In the event that the children completely bared from working, then they end up in riskier activities like prostitution, robbery, drug trafficking and many other related social problems. Disadvantages
There are several disadvantages that accompany the use of child labour. These include and not limited to the following. India is taken as an example in this research. India is one of the countries in the world with the highest number of children in its labour force. The children who work in India face several challenges which in most cases are a disadvantage to them.
The most pronounced disadvantage is that those children who are employed fail to attend school completely or at times do so, on part time basis. When these children fail to attend school, they remain illiterate and their ability to contribute to their own well-being is compromised. The need for skilled work force which is vital in the sustainable development in the country and therefore this is a trade-off. In India many children are employed in agricultural based economic activities with some in other labour intensive sectors of the cottage industries as well as the in the heavy commercial industries like coal mining (New York Times, 2013).
Child labour interferes with the children’s development both physically and emotionally. Owing to the fact that children and early ages are not fully development. The children do not have enough to play with the others and work under extremely hostile conditions. At times the children are forced to work harder than their physical strength could lead to extreme exhaustion and poor development of their social skills and other necessary aspects from a neutral environment. In India children work in glass industries which are hazardous to the health of the children. The melting of glass which involves quite high temperatures and risks of cut affects the children negatively.
Most children who are involved in child labour are underpaid. The companies pay very little wages to the children even after long hours of toil. The low wages keeps the children in a dependent relationship with their employer and hence consistently keeps working to survive. The underpayment can be associated with the lack of formal training. For example in India, children whose parents had taken credit had them work for the creditor for 12 to 14 hours in a day for Rs. 2-3 per day (National Human rights Commission, Gov. of India, 2000).
Bonded child labour is a system of child labour that is partly forced labour or totally forced labour in India. This involves the child’s parents entering into an agreement with a creditor. The agreement may be oral or written. The child then works in order to pay the credit. Although incidences of this kind of child labour have decreased, several cases are still been reported in India. Most of these bonded children labour are underpaid and work for very long hours beyond the international standards (Centre for Education and Communication. 2004. pp. 48–50). Although most people in the contemporary world perceive child labour as entirely a negative aspect, there are benefits attached it are far are superior to the problems and challenges mentioned above.
As evidenced in the above description of the state of child labour worldwide, it is evidently very clear that although there are several negative impacts to the children who are involved in child labour, the benefits outweigh those negatives effects. All people are inclined towards survival for the fittest as was articulated by Charles Darwin and hence, all the people including the young and the old, poor and the rich strive to compete in the environment to survive.
It would be in order for a child to choose survival over school, chose to have something to do other than remain idles as well as choose to gain skills at tender age another than go to school only to gain basic education which eventually may be of little benefits to them. However there is need to establish a good working environment for the children to regulate the hours of work, conditions of work as well as the remuneration so as to ensure that they gain maximum benefits from their work. For example in India The Child Labour Prohibition and regulation Act has banned child labour in specific fields like domestic work and work in restaurants, hotels, spa and resorts which came into force from 2006 (The Hindu, 2006).
“Debt Bondage in India: An Indicative Report". Centre for Education and Communication. 2004. pp. 48–50.
The Economist (5 February 2004). “Labour laws - An Amish exception”. The Economist. 5 February 2004.
Centre for Education and Communication. (2004). "Debt Bondage in India: An Indicative Report". Centre for Education and Communication. 2004. pp. 48–50.
Craig, Jamie (2009). Pros and Cons of child labour. Retrieved from http://www.lifepaths360.com/index.php/pros-and-cons-of-child-labor-2-9110/ on 6th Dec. 29013.
“Enforcing the ban". The Hindu. 20 October 2006.
Gardiner Harris (February 25, 2013). "Children Toil in India’s Mines, Despite Legal Ban". The New York Times. Retrieved February 26, 2013. "We have very good laws in this country,” said Vandhana Kandhari, a child protection specialist at Unicef. “It’s our implementation that’s the problem."
International Labour Organization. (2012). What is child labour?" International Labour Organisation.
National Human Rights Commission. (2000). Annual Report 1999-2000". National Human Rights Commission, Govt of India. 2000.
The Economist (20 December 2005). “Child Labour”. The Economist. 20 December 2005.
United Nations (2008) “Child labour - causes". ILO, United Nations.