Sensitizing the Public about Child Labour: A Strategic Effort
As discovered in the International Labour Organization (ILO) sponsored rapid assessment carried out by Dr. Leith Dunn, Research Coordinator, there are children in Barbados involved in:
- pornography and prostitution,
- illicit activities such as drug trafficking and
- hazardous activities
This kind of activity is referred to as "the worst forms of child labour" and the evidence of Dunn’s report highlight that child labour is not a distant problem but is a social plague that must be addressed with urgency.
The greatest challenge in combating child labour in Barbados is that many persons do not believe that it exists and most persons do not really understand what child labour is. Therefore, the Ministry of Labour has developed a Mass Media Programme on Child Labour which aims to:
- Sensitize the public to what constitutes child labour and the worst forms of child labour.
- Help the public understand that child labour whether in its worst forms or otherwise is a violation of children’s rights.
This promotion campaign was officially launched on June 12th, 2008, which is officially commemorated by the ILO as World Day against Child Labour. In the statement delivered by the Honorable David J. H. Thompson, M.P., Prime Minister of Finance, Economic Affairs and Development, Labour, Civil Service and Energy, he said:
"Our main concern in Barbados is with commercial sexual exploitation of children. We do not know the extent of this phenomenon but we are of the view that if a few children are involved, that is a few too many. Whereas Barbados may not have a major problem as far as this issue is concerned, the Ministry believes that it is important to sensitize the public about Child Labour, particularly its worst forms."
The mass media programme builds on previous sensitization efforts, which specifically targeted the Church, teachers, parents, community groups, law enforcement and the media. The Ministry will be utilizing all available media in order to spread the message through jingles, television promotions, brochures and posters. It is hoped that if the public understand what is child labour and the need to protect our children’s rights, then any incidence of child labour can be reported and addressed, thereby combating the worst forms child labour.
Frequently Asked Questions: Worst Forms of Child Labour
- What are the Worst Forms of Child Labour?
The worst forms of Child Labour (WFCL) include:
- a) The enslavement of children or similar practices such as sale/trafficking of children and forced labour;
- b) Commercial sexual exploitation of children;
- c) The involvement of children in the production and trafficking of drugs and
- d) Work likely to harm the health, safety or morals of children.
- Does the WFCL exist in Barbados?
Yes it does but not in all the above forms. Commercial sexual exploitation of children is known to exist. We also hear reports of the sale of drugs by children.
- What is the definition of Child?
A child is a person who is less than 18 years of age.
- Does minimum age for employment have a direct relationship to the worst forms of child Labour?
No. The minimum age for employment refers to the fact that a child in Barbados should not be working if he/she is less than sixteen years old. This is linked to the compulsory age of education. A fourteen year old child who works in a hairdressing salon during normal working hours is not complying with the Education Act Cap. 41 but that child is not involved in the WFCL.
- I am a thirteen year old who gets pocket money by working half day in a supermarket on Saturdays. Am I breaking the law relating to minimum age for employment?
No you are not since the work that you are doing will not interfere with your educational development.
- What agency is responsible for setting these standards on the WFCL and minimum age for employment?
The International Labour Organisation through Convention Nos 138, Minimum Age for Employment, and Convention 182, the Worst Forms of Child Labour, both of which Barbados has ratified.
- What is Barbados doing to address the issue of the WFCL?
The Ministry of Labour is charged with this responsibility. It has mounted an educational campaign, developed a survey instrument on child economic activities and carried out research to identify anomalies in legislation as they relate to child labour. The Ministry of Labour is assisted by social and educational institutions in Government, UNICEF, the Church and Civic Society.
- What is one of the key messages of the WFCL?
It is a violation of the rights of the child.
- If I know that the WFCL is happening what can I do?
Please make a telephone call to the Ministry of Labour, the Labour Department, the Police Department or the Child Care Board.
- What do you want the Public to know about WFCL?
- a) It is hidden;
- b) It happens in Barbados;
- c) It requires vigilance;
- c) It needs our attention.
Published: Wednesday, 21st May, 2008