Child Labor

Rodny Rodriguez
11th grade, School of Information Technology at Eastside High School

[3rd Place, 11th and 12th Grade Contest]

     India ravaged by child labor? However, before we jump into India, let’s take a detour back into the history of child labor. The Industrial Revolution had a huge impact on technology which brought economic and social changes. The creation of powered machinery made life easier and provided an immense opportunity for jobs. People began to migrate from rural areas to highly dense and populated cities, leaving their farms behind to work in factories. Although, child labor already existed by then on family farms, there was a big difference from working on the family farm and working in a factory. The Industrial Revolution simplified manufacturing to the point in which brute strength was not essential. As a result, children were hired more because it cost less to hire children. In addition, many were able to get into small and narrow spaces unlike adults. Children were not only working in factories, but also in mines, mills, and small businesses, selling food, flowers etc. Unfortunately, this epidemic increased the amount of children workers in these occupations tremendously. Nonetheless, the jobs given to these children particularly in factories, mines and mills were very dangerous. In “History of Child Labor,” Jayashree Pakhare states:

Children working in factories were forced to do jobs of high stress levels like assembling boxes, handling dangerous chemicals, and toxins, undergoing severe physical and mental fatigue and trauma, facing the risk of injury, disability, amputation and even death.

     In mines, children were to crawl through tiny pits to reach the coalface, and were required to operate on the ventilation ports. In mills, this child workforce grew annually. Out-working others and working longer hours, with greater intensity was the dream each child harbored, and this would mentally challenge them. Children were brainwashed to believe that, labor was all life had to offer and they had to prove themselves at it.

     With regards to this, India has become a country intoxicated with child labor. “What’s the cause of this?”, you may ask. Unlike the Industrial Revolution, poverty, a fatalist attitude, a high population, and lack of education are the causes of child labor. Among the four causes I have provided, poverty and high population are the two main causes of child labor. Many industries are the root of poverty. Furthermore, as the population continues to increase, the amount of resources begins to decline. With limited resources, children have no other choice but to initiate themselves into commercial activities. In the article, “Child Labor in India and its Causes,” Viegas Elias argues:

In order to keep cost down, even large companies employ unorganized workers through contractors who get uneducated and unskilled and semi-skilled people at very low wages.

     This helps the industries to keep their labor cost down at the cost of the poor laborers. In effect, what happens is that children of these poor unorganized laborers have to find some work to help run the family. They cannot afford to go to school when they do not have food to eat and when their brethren go hungry. Hence, children from such deprived families try to work as domestic servants, or in factories that employ them and remain uneducated and grow up that way, becoming perennial victims of this vicious cycle or poverty and suppression.

     My solution to this problem would be to create strict laws against child labor. Also, we need to provide the children with the free education they rightfully deserve. For example, the shooting of Sandy Hook Elementary school—which took place in Newtown, Connecticut—caused uproar across the Eastern part of the United States. Seeing that, many citizens urged for newer and stricter gun laws to prevent another similar tragedy as this. Therefore, why not do the same with child labor? The American public must be made aware of the problem of child labor that exists in India and other developing nations. The population of United States and other Western nations are the consumers of products made by child labor in these developing countries. American and European companies sponsor factories in these countries that exploit children to increase corporate profit and cut the cost to the consumer. American and European companies that support the use of foreign child labor must be exposed and their products boycotted. In addition, stores that sell these products need to be boycotted as well. Corporate greed will always be with us, so only if we hurt their companies financially can we force them to stop using child labor. Many of these developing nations receive financial aid from America, so the American government can withhold this aid until these nations implement strict laws against child labor.

     With this in mind, we must not forget about education. George Washington Carver once said, “Education is the key to unlocking the golden door of freedom.” With education, children will build self-confidence and learn important life skills for the future. As a result, this will give them the chance of unlocking the golden door to freedom and escaping the evil clutches that is child labor.

History of Child Labor.”, Dec. 19 2011