Child labor stems from many different causes. Economic hardship is the primary reason that drive children into the workforce. According to Unicef(1), nearly 1 in 10 children across the world, approximately 152 million children are subjected to child labor. The consequences of child labor are devastating. Many children experience physical and mental harm. They can experience isolation, loneliness and depression. It can lead to traumas that can affect them into their adulthood. They are often exploited into slavery or sex trafficking. Physically, they can suffer from malnutrition, and also injuries at workplaces. In many factories that employ children, they work with heavy machinery which can lead to serious bodily harm. In fact almost 50 percent are involved in work that is hazardous, and dangerous to their safety and health. In almost every case, they have no choice but to drop out from school. This jeopardizes their futures, and takes away their fundamental right to literacy, education and opportunities for growth.
In Bangladesh, there is much to be done regarding child labor. There are nearly 450,000 children who live in the streets. In order to survive, they often engage in low skilled, low paid work. The primary school dropout rate is 35 percent, as they need to earn money to feed themselves and their families.For last several years DCI has been working to protect these children in the poorest of poor areas in the city and remote villages of Bangladesh by providing sponsorship support for education, health care and family support.
What can we do?
- We must hold the employers accountable, with rules to bar them from employing children without any services for their welfare. When employers abuse their power, breaking international agreements against the employment of children, then they must be held accountable and reported for their actions. Children must be protected from the institutions which choose to exploit them.
- Increase access to education, and make it universal. It is extremely important that all children no matter what their socioeconomic status may be, have access to school. Many families who are severely impoverished cannot afford to send their children to school, and resort to sending them to work in hazardous conditions. By increasing access to education and making schools cost effective, more children can have opportunities to break from the cycle of poverty and from being thrust into labor.
- Increase awareness about child labor and the detrimental effects through social awareness campaigns. It is incredibly important to educate communities to build awareness about how valuable and vital education is for children. Child labor is far-reaching and especially devastating for countries where there is armed conflict or greater rates of poverty. In those areas, there needs to be more awareness about this issue.
At DCI, Thousands of children at risk are being sponsored through the DCI’s SunChild Sponsorship Program, where they receive support for their education and welfare. We also hold social awareness campaigns regarding child labor. There are group meetings for mothers, community rallies and event, so there is general awareness about how important it is for a child to go to school, so they can learn to read, write and attain a career that allows them to break from the cycle of poverty and safeguard them from child labor.