Child Labour Essay Example

Executive Summary

The issue of child labour has been rampantly reported in different parts of the world as children become deprived of their childhood through involvement in adult labour. It is worth noting that child labour leads to the denial of the chance of school attendance among children and harms them mentally, physically, morally, and socially. The worst cases of child labour have been massively reported in developing countries as most children come from poor backgrounds. Poverty pushes children into the labour market as they try to support their families up the economic ladder. The World Bank and other organizations such as International Labour Organization (ILO), and UNICEF acknowledge that child labour is still a massive problem that needs to be solved around the world.


Child labour is still on the high with reported cases ranging between 250 to 340 million around the world. The International Labour Organization estimates that child labour contributes to about 32% of the workforce in Africa, 22% in Asia, 17% in Latin America, while the U.S., Canada, and Europe have about 1% of child labour (Herath and Sharma 27). The causes of child labour could be classified into primary, cultural and macroeconomic causes. There have also been international laws of child labour to ensure that this practice is curbed, and children are granted the required level of freedom they deserve. The most common law on child labour is the Convention on the Rights of the Child that was adopted in 1990 by the United Nations. The most common incidents of child labour have been reported in cocoa production, mining in Sub-Saharan Africa, silk weaving, and Primark. Some football clubs have also been reported to engage children in sporting activities not meant for people at their age.

Current essay explicates the causes of child labour, the effects of child labour, the law on child labour, and the common incidences of child labour around the world.

Causes of Child Labour

As noted earlier, the causes of child labour could be categorized into primary, cultural and macroeconomic causes. These causes are discussed below.

Primary Causes

According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), there are two primary causes of child labour around the world. One of the most significant primary causes of child labour around the world is poverty (Herumin 39). It is worth noting that children from impoverished households are always pushed into the job market without their knowledge. They are always charged with the responsibility of supplementing their parents’ income contributions by participating in different areas of works that are meant for adults. Orphans are always required to provide for their sibling hence getting into the workforce in the early stages of their lives. Overall, poverty remains the most significant cause of child labour as most children remain desperate to provide for their impoverished households.

Another primary cause of child labour is lack of affordable schools and quality education in some countries. ILO reports that most countries in Asia and Africa have experienced increasing cases of child labour, because they lack alternatives for these children. The availability of alternatives such as affordable schools could have played an instrumental role in the avoidance of child labour around the world. For instance, ILO estimates that 60-70% of children in rural areas are likely to be involved in child labour, because of lack of affordable schools in their vicinity (Hindman 20).

Cultural Causes

Cultural causes have also played a central role in leading to the high cases of child labour around the world. Notably, some cultural factors in different parts of the world seem to rationalize child labour hence encouraging it as a desirable practice. For instance, cultural beliefs that view work as part of character development and good behavior among children tend to encourage child labour. This is especially because children would want to take part in such activities with the aim of impressing the rest of society. Additionally, the presumption that young girls should not access education has been a significant catalyst of child labour around the world. The denial of education to girl-child because of cultural beliefs has been key in pushing most of these children into child labour.

Macroeconomic Causes

Macroeconomic factors have also contributed to the rising levels of child labour in the world today. Demand and supply factors have been mainly blamed for leading to child labour around the world. The research conducted by Biggeri and Mehrotra indicated that supply and demand factors in the economy have undeniable led to immeasurable levels of child labour in the world (Hindman 47). The supply side factors that lead to increased child labour are poverty and lack of social amenities such as schools that could keep these children busy. The demand side is made up of factors such as the presence of the low-paying economy, the inflexible labour market, inability of industries to adopt modern production methods, and the size of the informal economy. These factors have made it easier for companies to accept children as labourers in their areas of work. They have been viewed as the effective supplement to machines that could be used in the production process in factories.

Effects of Child Labour

Child labour has severe consequences on children taking part in the different activities. Most people around the world have failed to understand these effects hence continuing with the practice of child labour.

One of the most significant effects of child labour is the denial of education. The subjection of children to work in the early stages of their lives makes it difficult for them to access education. Education has always been perceived as the powerful tool to empower societies and eliminate poverty. The denial of education to children leads to increased poverty as the cycle of child labour continues in their societies (Herath and Sharma 51). They would always pass it onto the next generation hence posing the challenge to the elimination of poverty in society. The denial of education to children limits their choices as they grow up into adults.

Child labour could also lead to physical and mental injuries among children. Children could suffer both physically and mentally because of the subjection to hard work in their early years. For instance, working on farms at early stages could lead to permanent physical injuries that are likely to change the overall life of a child. Children also suffer mental injuries because of the massive workload involved in the different jobs they are subjected to. This means that they cannot be productive in their adult life. They would find it difficult to work in their adult years, because of the physical and mental harm they face in their early years as children.

Laws on Child Labour

Countries around the world have tried to fight the practice of child labour using different laws. The International Labour Organization, UNICEF, and the United Nations have remained vocal about child labour. They have embraced different campaigns against child labour around the world. In line with the minimum age convention of 1973, The International Labour Organization (ILO) defines child labour as any form of work done by children below the age of 12 years, heavy work done by children aged 12-14 years, and any other dangerous work done by children aged 15-17 years (Herumin 67). This convention has been ratified by 135 countries around the world hence showing their inner desire to eliminate the practice.

Additionally, the United Nations came up with the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1990. This law is ratified by around 193 countries globally, and it aims at protecting all children from economic exploitation in their own countries or other countries. This law states that children should not be subjected to harmful labour that interferes with their physical, emotional, spiritual, or mental normalness.

The International Program on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC) initiated child labour campaigns to fight against child labour around the world. Specifically, the organization promoted the global “Music against Child Labour” to help protect children from economic exploitation through child labour.


In summary, child labour is still on the rise in different parts of the world even as international organizations fight to eliminate the practice. Children have continued to be subjected to harmful jobs at their early ages hence posing a risk to their mental, physical, and spiritual factors. Children would not have the opportunity to grow normally in instances where they are subjected to child labour. Therefore, child labour is normally caused by high levels of poverty, lack of affordable schools for children, industrial demands for more labour, and increased cultural factors that tend to encourage child labour. Child labour could only be eliminated in instances where everyone takes the initiative to save children from exposure to early jobs. The elimination of child labour would play a helpful role in promoting the growth of children into responsible individuals with a high level of education.

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