You hear the sound of little footsteps running outside, the laughter and joyful screams of the children playing together. Only there is no laughter or joyous cries, it’s the sound of children running out to their factories to be on time, so they aren’t beaten by their employers. This is the daily life of many of the 260 million children who are employed around the world and the 6.15 million children in bondage, technically slaves. The United States should be doing more to prevent the exploitation of children for labor around the world by boycotting goods made by children and passing heavier laws against companies that exploit children for their benefit.
Child labor is a major issue throughout the world today, especially in poor, developing countries. Children are forced to work in factories for little to no pay with long extensive hours, and are often beaten or abused for not understanding or doing things wrong. Some of the work includes working at brick kilns, assembling shoes, mixing gunpowder for firecrackers, or working at carpet looms. The health and safety of these children are not being taken into consideration at all, they are often injured or killed from the hazardous conditions and materials they work with. A study done by the International Labor Organization in 26 countries claims that 115 million children are engaged in hazardous employment. Not only are these children risking their health, they are suffering from emotional stress and trauma in order to help their family make ends meet. These children are also losing their only opportunity for an education. If these children can go to school, they will be able to get a proper job and be able to care for their families. This will end the cycle of poverty, vulnerability and lost opportunity. Companies in the United States have a big role in the child labor market. The fashion industry and many well known companies are still using child labor in third-world countries in order to cheaply produce goods. A UNICEF report on child labor found that “Fast fashion has engendered a race to the bottom, pushing companies to find ever-cheaper sources of labour”. Many consumers are reluctant to pay extra for things which in turn results in companies being hesitant to end child labor. This raises the question, is the future of these children insignificant in comparison to the paying a little extra for clothes or goods? Producing affordable and fashionable clothing and goods is very much attainable, as consumers we must support these companies who do not exploit child labor, in order to send a message.
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In order to obtain a better future for the world’s most vulnerable we must spread awareness and boycott companies that are exploiting children for labor. In addition, we must come together and urge Congress to pass heavier laws against companies that are using child labor. All children regardless of race, class, and gender deserve a childhood, they all deserve education in order to achieve their full potential, without the enormous psychological and emotional trauma these children face everyday trapped in the worst forms of child labor. We must focus on protecting, rehabilitating, and upholding the rights of children, who do not have their own voice. As a former child slave in India said, “I used to work in brick kilns. I am free now and I wish that every child is free.”
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