It’s time to stop letting children do our jobs.
Child labor seems to go unnoticed and it is an ongoing problem internationally that affects all of us.
Throughout the world there are an estimated 218 million children between ages 5 and 17 working in factories and other hazardous conditions. In India itself, there are between 60 million and 115 million children working.
The United States might be fighting childhood obesity, yet others are still fighting to end child labor and you and I benefit from products made by children around the world.
Why is this occurring now in 2007 when in 1938 the United States passed the Fair Labor Standards Act that prevents minors ages 14 and younger from working, to allow them to benefit from a quality education without distractions?
Even before this act was passed, the United States tried to pass the Keating-Owen Child Labor Act, which passed under the administration of President Woodrow Wilson. This prevented minors from working instead of receiving an education.
The act also prevented the importing of products by countries that use child labor. Two years after Wilson passed it, the act was deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
If the United States has made numerous attempts at ending child labor, why has the rest of the world not followed our lead? Then why is the United States supporting the issue by importing these goods and allowing child labor to continue around the world. Is it also our fault as well because of outsourcing blue-collar jobs to foreign countries?
The reason is because the issue has just been highlighted to the general public. With modern technology it seems impossible that other countries can be so misinformed, especially with CNN international, the internet and satellite radio.
Maybe the reason is outsourcing jobs because as more jobs are being outsourced more workers are needed in other countries. Since the poverty level is so high in India, children are being forced to work for little to no pay.
The children of India do not have the same opportunity as American students to learn because they are making products for other children around the world.
While students in America are busy learning how to read and write, children in India are learning how to sew buttons on shirts and in some cases, operate a machine six times their weight.
In fact in 1996, Human Rights Watch, a humanitarian organization, began to create general awareness of the rights of people internationally. Besides child labor, the watch also takes preventative measures against starvation, torture and other forms of dehumanization globally.
The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 in America requires that children under the age of 18 obtain official working papers. I remember my first job at a swim club. I tried to go to work the first day and was quickly sent home for not having my working papers yet, proving the weight that this act contains in America.
Probably at the same time in India, another child younger than me went to work for the first time and sewed 50 sweaters.
These children are forced to work because the majority of their families are living in or below the poverty line. The parents of the children are working alongside them doing the same kind of work and putting in the same hours, yet the children are being paid less by the companies.
Our greedy needs like the newest cell phones, i-Pods and designer clothing all are developed in countries that are not in America. We may be benefiting from it but the children are suffering, and it’s time that people step up and try to fight for all the children who are oppressed, impoverished and uneducated around the world, not just in America.