Why is child labour a problem?

+25 votes
asked Mar 25, 2015 in Culture & Society by RicoWheelwri (380 points)
I think I’m a fairly good citizen and I support charities in third world countries. But recently, an acquaintance of mine, who is less “good citizen” and more “crazy activist”, absolutely ripped into me for being an “advocate of child labour”. Let me explain. I had recently purchased a dress from a cheaper clothing label which shall remain nameless and was telling a friend how happy I was with the price and the quality. The acquaintance cut in to tell me that my dress was undoubtedly made by a “starving Bangladeshi child working their fingers to the bone” to satisfy my “lust for fashion” (her words). I was horrified by this accusation and am fairly sure that it is not true. But it did make me more aware of this issue. Why is child labour a problem? I would hate to think of children being mistreated, but if the children are poor and starving, is there a way for the clothing corporations to employ some (maybe one a small, part-time basis) so that they could earn money for food?

9 Answers

+21 votes
answered May 3, 2015 by AgnesBurbury (590 points)
In a nut shell, child labor is a problem because it harms the physical and mental development of children, prevents them from enjoying a normal childhood and keeps them out of school. Do poorer countries need investment and assistance from big corporations? I believe yes, but they could start by employing the parents of these kids and paying them proper wages. Statistically, 150 million kids are working in dangerous conditions and over 1 million children each year will become victims of human traffickers. I recommend becoming more conscious of where your clothes are made and supporting charities that help community development in poorer nations.
+20 votes
answered Apr 9, 2015 by SommerQay13 (360 points)
Putting children to work because they are cheap labor is a lot like hiring illegal immigrants, which never helps the economy or job market but actually makes it worse. If jobs are being given to children because they can do the job cheaper, which means able-bodied adults are losing jobs. This makes child labor a problem because it continues promoting poverty by taking away jobs from adults.
+10 votes
answered Apr 12, 2015 by LaylaBlossev (350 points)
Yeap, your friend is definitely overreacting there. Anyway, child labor will be a problem for a long period of time. In a poor country, where it is difficult for both parents to support the whole family, the child often has to contribute to putting the food on the table. Countries that are poor usually have these issues, such as India and Bangladesh. Poorly educated parents, leading to lots of children, coupled with worsening economy and workers exploitation. So children start working in sweat shop factories as early as 9 years old and get paid in cents by the hour, usually work 10 hours a day. You can’t blame them entirely, they need that money to survive. But they are missing up on education as a result, education that could ensure a better life for them in the future.
+10 votes
answered May 20, 2015 by JanieCable82 (380 points)
As long as we continue buying these fashion productions, shoes, jeans, shirts, whatsoever, child labour will continue to be a problem. Due to a high demand for cheap clothing these days, fashion brands outsource their production overseas for the lower cost. The chain of production results in underage workers in sweatshops, no matter how illegal it is, because of money. Stopping that chain would also require us, the buyers, to stop buying these cheaply mass produced clothes. If we stop buying, hopefully, the companies will change their methods to get their customers back. In buying clothes made by a small child on the other side of the world, you are indirectly supporting the brands cause to continue their malpractice. We can instead be a responsible buyer that only shop in stores that you can confirm to have been producing their products in acceptable working conditions.
+3 votes
answered Sep 24, 2015 by WillianHanki (260 points)
No matter what kind of restrictions are in place, if a child is working that means that they are taking time and focus away from school or at least homework. So why is child labour a problem? Because many of these children are denied the opportunity of full-time, quality education that helps them not only become successful adults but escape poverty. So even if they are working because they live in poverty, taking away their education just means that their life of poverty will continue not get better.
+2 votes
answered May 11, 2015 by Nina (630 points)
One of my favorite Nelson Mandela quotes is “There can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children.” Child labour is horrendous in all its many forms. Besides the obvious detrimental side effects, lack of schooling, physical injury, unsafe conditions, mistreatment by an employer, etc., studies have shown child labour can cause serious mental health issues as well. One study in Ethiopia found 20% of child labourers suffered from a mental disorder, compared with only 12% of the general population.
+2 votes
answered Jul 22, 2015 by CarJJO (200 points)
Why is child labour a problem? And will it stop if you stop buying clothes that are produced by child labourers? Unfortunately, no, it won’t. A big problem is what causes child labour. Yes, child labour is cheap, so they create bigger profits, but often children are forced into the workforce by their family situation. They have parents who are sick, maimed, drug addicted or who are unable to find paying work themselves. Unless these underlying issues are dealt with, child labour will continue to be a problem, no matter where we shop.
+1 vote
answered May 25, 2015 by BerryTrollop (200 points)
Just because a work environment is safe for an adult doesn’t mean that the same job won’t be hazardous for children. Their physical differences make child labor a problem because the health risks are greater for children who are at various stages of development and can have long-term effects on their well-being. There’s a high statistic of work-related injuries and illnesses amongst child laborers, but it doesn’t end there! Millions of children die from risky employment, especially agriculture related, every year.
+1 vote
answered Jul 6, 2015 by BrandenPauls (210 points)
Why is child labour a problem? Simply put, it’s because it's allowed to happen. Companies making clothes would outsource the production overseas, where it is so much cheaper than doing it back home. On one hand, it's good for the world’s economy; on the other hand, bad chain management leads to terrible working conditions and child labour. Buying clothes is cheaper and easier than ever, the main way brands could make money now is through volume. The only way they could sustain that low cost, is through sweatshops overseas.

Then now we have a problem of low production cost, which means that the workers get less money than ever for all the work they have done. But when confronted by these issues, the fashion brand claims that they were shocked by that fact (classic denying), stating that while they did outsource the production with sweatshops and underage worker in mind. The blame then goes to middleman companies that promise the products to be shipped to the brands, the sweatshops are then under the contract of the middleman company to produce them. So the chain of production is terrible since the brands have no direct control over the production method (which, of course, could be solved easily, with more money, but well, that’s expensive). So they can’t enforce labour rights, companies continue to use these sweatshops and child labour continues to be a problem.
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