WHAT IS CHILD LABOUR?
Child labour generally refers to any activities that harm the physical and mental wellbeing of the child and which impedes on the child’s education and development. Therefore, a child braiding hair on weekends to earn extra money would not be necessarily child labour. However, if this child braids hair instead of attending school, then this activity is child labour.
The ILO Convention No. 182 further defines the worst forms of child labour as:-
- All forms of slavery or practices similar to slavery, such as the sale and trafficking of children, debt bondage, serfdom, forced or compulsory labour or the forced or compulsory recruitment for use in armed conflicts;
- the use, procuring or offering of a child for prostitution, for the production of pornography or for pornographic performances;
- the use, procuring or offering of a child for illicit activities, in particular for the production and trafficking of drugs as defined in the relevant international treaties;
- work which, by its nature or its circumstances in which it is carried out, is likely to harm the health, safety or morals of children.
Child Labour Prostitution
Child labour is a social plague that can erode the moral and cultural foundation of any society. It is exploitative in nature and can have detrimental effects on a child’s educational and psychological development. When a child participates in the worst forms of child labour, his/her self esteem and self confidence is damaged and the child remains vulnerable to further exploitation, even in their adulthood.
Furthermore, a child’s involvement in hazardous or sexual activities puts his/her health at increased risk. The spread of HIV/AIDS, teen pregnancy, mental disorders and disabilities are just a few of the health problems that can affect the children who are exploited through the worst forms of child labour.
The effects of child labour can also escalate into a continuous cycle of social problems as the children who were involved in child labour and who were deprived of a complete education would most likely participate in illicit activities. This in turn could lead to increased incidences of juvenile delinquency. Furthermore, as adults, these children are more likely to participate in criminal activities, which could lead to incarceration.
DEFINITION OF A CHILD
In relation to child labour, the international definition for a child is a person under 18 years old. However, in Barbados, child labour is labour performed by a child under 16 years because schooling is compulsory for children ages 5-16.