My Grade 8 Child Labour Essay
Twelve-year-old Alejandra wakes up at four in the morning, not to go to school, but to collect curiles (small molluscs) at a mangrove swamp. In her rush to get to work, Alejandra does not even take a moment to eat her breakfast and when she arrives at the mangrove swamp, Alejandra has to endure unpleasant weather, mosquito bites, cuts, scrapes, and other injuries – all during her search for the curiles. When she returns home, her body is nearly always covered with bites. Alejandra would consider herself lucky even if she earns as little as $1.40 every day. For Alejandra, life seemed like a tunnel with no exit. This story is quite similar to what millions of child labourers are forced to tolerate. Child labour still remains as one of the most significant injustices, by exploiting human rights and forcing children to work illegally. Child labour can lead to a multitude of negative consequences including; interferences with the child’s education, a considerable amount of mental health issues, and a variety of short and long-term physical problems.
One of the dominant problems that child labour opposes to children is the disruption of education. Education is the basis of a bright future – graduating from high school, college, or university enables you to be employed with a job providing a sufficient salary. This is of vital importance, however, this is not the case for everyone. 168 million children around the world are subjected to child labour and, as touched upon before, are unable to attend school regularly or even be present at school at all (WHO). This is an enormous number, making up for over half the population of the United States of America. Child labour also strongly impacts school attendance rates – children enduring child labour have attendance rates of only about 50% of non-working children. Furthermore, the net enrollment percentage of children aged five to nine is decreased as a result of child labour (GPE). Aside from decreasing enrollment rates and general attendance, child labour also influences the academic performance of a child. A study that was conducted proved that approximately 33% of children living in third-world countries fail to complete four years of education (Srivastava, Kalpana). This is devastating mainly because these four years of education could have been the difference between a prosperous future or death. On top of this, children who merged school attendance with work received an upsettingly poor academic performance, contributing to another reason for the failure of four years of education (Srivastava, Kalpana). The poor academic performance leads to the inability of graduating which causes another chain of consequences causing a child’s life to become quite miserable. Education is one of the top priorities in someone’s life, allowing them to be employed in a pleasant environment, have a suitable job, and have an acceptable wage. However, child labour alters education into something that induces pressure and interferes with work. Overall, the combination of child labour and education, promises a bitter childhood and a grey future ahead.
Mental health is an immensely vital component of an individual, determining their level of psychological well-being. Mental health affects our thinking capabilities, our emotions, and our actions. It also helps determine how we manage stress, empathize, and make choices. Unfortunately, child labour influences mental health quite adversely. A study was conducted to examine the mental health effects that child labour opposes. The study proved that children who worked in dangerous sectors, such as domestic or agricultural labour, did not possess the capability to develop their psychosocial health (Sarita Bharti & Dr. Shalini Agarwal). Furthermore, a survey conducted by a group of anonymous, aimed to discover the consequences of child labour with children in Lebanon who were exposed to hazardous liquid solvents. The study found high rates of lightheadedness, fatigue, impaired memory, and depression with the exposed children in comparison to the non-exposed group (Kalpana Srivastava). These symptoms are perilous and serious, a sign that the child’s mental health is in a critical state. Pesticides also possess the capability to affect mental health and well-being. Pesticides can cause a handful of mental health issues upon exposure, and children can also be quite easily exposed to them. One of the ways is when children are illiterate, because of child labour, resulting in them exposed to pesticides from a farm without knowledge because they couldn’t read a sign. However, the most prevalent way a child might be exposed to pesticides, due to child labour, is when they work in a pesticide farm that has been recently sprayed with the poisonous liquid or when they spray pesticides themselves without proper safety equipment (ILO). Exposure to pesticides can also have some catastrophic effects. An author discloses how pesticides can cause an astonishing number of mental health effects, some of which include; memory loss, decreased coordination, lightheadedness, anxiety, confusion, excitation, aggression, loss of coordination, seizures, slow response to stimuli, decreased visual ability, and abnormal mood sets (Katarina Lah). This is overwhelming – the fact that a single liquid can induce this number of symptoms is shocking. What’s alarming is child labour can trigger even more dilemmas. While pesticides are an indirect way children could be affected by child labour, working several hours a day at work can induce and fuel the emotion of anger, annoyance and uselessness. Children who continued to work in these sectors ultimately became introverted and unsociable (Sarita Bharti & Dr. Shalini Agarwal). Shattering as it is, this is only a tiny portion of how child labour impacts children’s mental health. Children are the future of humanity and the treatment they’re being provided is a wrongdoing. Mental health and well-being is a basic primacy, and the ways child labour affects it is sickening. In fact, as aforementioned, this is only a minute segment of what child labour does, there is surprisingly more.
Another atrocious dilemma child labour opposes to children are short and long-term physical problems. Physical problems, in general, threaten the existence of people, by harming vital organs in their body, which can be fatal, or causing various complications with the body. A sector of child labour, called agricultural labour, was the most prevalent form of child labour, compelling children to endure numerous hazards such as heavy machinery, dangerous tools, heavy loads, and pesticides as aforementioned – all of which inflict short and long-term physical problems. Moreover, children may even work under the presence of snakes (WHO). Aside from the occasional cuts and other small injuries sustained from labouring under this environment, exposure to pesticides can cause even more physical problems. There is an abundance of physical problems that pesticides can inflict on children, some of which include; asthma, allergic reactions, and hypersensitivity. Further exposure to pesticides may even be linked to the cause of cancer, hormone interruption, and even complications with birth and development of the fetus (Katarina Lah). It is evident that, after combining all of these physical and mental health effects together, pesticides can be quite a huge contributor to a child’s suffering. However, there are much more ways child labour can instigate short and long-term physical problems. “… a retrospective cohort study in Morocco which randomly examined two-hundred children working in the handicraft sector and found a high prevalence of respiratory, digestive and skin conditions … In a cross-sectional survey, urban Lebanese children aged ten to seventeen, working full-time in small industrial shops, were compared with non-working matched school children. Majority of them had poor physical health, predominantly marked with skin lesions or ear complaints and social care needs -” (Kalpana Srivastava). Calamitous as they may be, this is what children have to endure, similar to sprinting through a labyrinth with no way out. The pain and misery experienced by the children is unimaginable and horrifying. Only when people experience what child labourers endure themselves, they will truly understand the atrocity of child labour. While the disquisition may generate despairing thoughts, there is hope.
Child labour can definitely hinder children’s education, subject children to various mental health problems, and instigate an abundance of short and long-term physical problems. In fact, it becomes evident that child labour is one of the most unspeakable crises that exist in this world, by abusing the rights of a child, and obliging them to labour in harsh conditions – illegally. However, as aforementioned, there is hope – it may even end this dire strait gradually and you can be one of the people who aid the eradication of child labour. You can start by educating yourself about the crisis and sharing the information amongst family, friends, and acquaintances. Then, contact retail stores, manufacturers, and importers to ensure their products are not produced from child labour. Another way you can help stop this plight is through donating to reputable organisations or groups that are helping free children from child labour and receive an adequate education – for the price of just one meal. All of these simple, but potent approaches to ending child labour, may even play a small role in eradicating this crisis by 2025. Remember, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world” (Mahatma Gandhi).
“Hazardous Child Labour.” WHO. World Health Organization, n.d. Web. 6 Dec. 2017. <http://www.who.int/occupational_health/topics/childlabour/en/>.
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Srivastava, Kalpana. “Child Labour Issues and Challenges.” NCBI. Wolters Kluwer — Medknow Publications, 2011. Web. 07 Dec. 2017.
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“The Impact of Pesticide Exposure on Child Labourers in Agriculture.” ILO. International Labour Organization, 22 June 2011. Web. 07 Dec. 2017. <http://www.ilo.org/global/about-the-ilo/newsroom/features/WCMS_158425/lang–en/index.htm>
Lah, Katarina. “Effects of Pesticides on Human Health.” Toxipedia. N.p., 6 May 2011.
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