Exploitative child labor is a very controversial issue, and there are many different forms of it. It is never a good thing, and should definitely be stopped, but if the alternatives to child labor are worse than the labor itself, then we have a dilemma. Here are a couple examples of child labor:
o Tim, who is 17 years old, works at a fast food restaurant in the United States. He receives minimum wage, and is not forced to work. He is allowed free time, and his job doesnít interfere with his education.
o Raju works as a domestic servant in Bangladesh. He lives with the family that he works for, and doesnít go to school. The family makes up for that by teaching him themselves. He also is allowed some free time, and gets a reasonable pay.
o Kumar works at the quarries in Nigeria. He is forced to work all day long, every day of the week for about 4 cents a day. He gets no form of education, and has no free time whatsoever. He is in bondage and gets no pay. His hands are deformed and callused from swinging a pickaxe, so he may never be able to get another job.
Almost everyone agrees that Tim working at the fast food restaurant in the US is perfectly acceptable, because he gets a good wage and has very fair circumstances. The challenge is where to draw the line: Is it between Kumar and Raju, between Tim and Raju, or is child labor that is worse than Kumarís the only unacceptable kind? We asked approximately 80 middle school students this question, and the main dispute was whether or not Rajuís situation was acceptable. The majority of students who took our survey agreed with us: Rajuís situation is reasonably acceptable, so long as the alternative to his labor is worse than being a domestic servant. As stated before, no exploitative child labor is good, but if the child is in danger without it, than it is okay if they have an education, reasonable pay, and free time.
Take our online survey and tell us when you think child labor is right and wrong!
Want to find out more about child laborers? At the child laborers section, you can read real cases studies, like the ones described in the survey.