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Child Labour

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Child Labour
Child Labour Child labor is work that harms children or keeps them from attending school. Around the world growing gaps between rich and poor in recent decades have forced millions of young children out of school and into work. The International Labor Organization estimates that 215 million children between the ages of 5 and 17 currently work under conditions that are considered illegal, hazardous, or extremely exploitative. Underage children work at all sorts of jobs around the world, usually because they and their families are extremely poor. Large numbers of children work in commercial agriculture, fishing, manufacturing, mining, and domestic service. Some children work in illicit activities like the drug trade and prostitution or other traumatic activities such as serving as soldiers.

Some social scientists point out that some kinds of work may be completely unobjectionable — except for one thing about the work that makes it exploitative. For instance, a child who delivers newspapers before school might actually benefit from learning how to work, gaining responsibility, and a bit of money. But what if the child is not paid? Then he or she is being exploited. As UNICEF’s 1997 State of the World’s Children Report puts it, "Children’s work needs to be seen as happening along a continuum, with destructive or exploitative work at one end and beneficial work - promoting or enhancing children’s development without interfering with their schooling, recreation and rest - at the other. And between these two poles are vast areas of work that need not negatively affect a child’s development." Other social scientists have slightly different ways of drawing the line between acceptable and unacceptable work.

As UNICEF’s 1997 State of the World’s Children Report puts it, "Children’s work needs to be...

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