Child labour must stop

Hazel McCallion Senior Public School
Mississauga, Ontario

By Christina Khoury (Grade 8)

The controversial subject of child labour has been talked about by thousands of people worldwide for many years now. Well, let the talking stop and the action begin! For the past two hundred years, harmless children have been working extremely long hours in inhumane conditions and earning next to nothing. This terrible exploitation of these innocent children must be abolished -- today.

In many third world countries, children find themselves forced to work in order to help their families provide adequate food, shelter and even water. These children risk their lives for meagre pay. Mining operations and factories that produce fireworks are death traps for these young workers. Such an example is Easwaris Makhili. This thirteen-year-old Pakistani, like countless others, died in a fireworks factory explosion, due to the lack of adult supervision. Death is too steep a price for a poor child to pay.

In work environments where children's lives may not be in danger, their health certainly is. Statistics show that more than fifty million children under the age of sixteen work under hazardous conditions. Children who work in factories that produce toxic fumes develop respiratory problems and cancer. Others are in a state of constant fatigue due to poor ventilation and lack of sunlight. Child workers are left to handle heavy machinery without proper training or supervision. This has caused many broken bones and other painful and crippling injuries. Are all these broken bones and lives caused by our broken promises to them?

Along with the concerns for the children's lives and health, comes the concern for their social well-being. These labourers have no time to enjoy life or to play. When not working, they have to do chores at home. Incidentally, children in domestic employment undergo the most serious cases of mental suffering. These children, by the nature of their work, are kept away from other children of their own age. This has led to a great lack of trust of adults and to an inability to communicate their feelings to others. In adulthood, they have a hard time adjusting into society. These children's futures have already been decided the very day their childhood was taken away from them. It's time we give back what we took.

"Many things we need can wait, the child cannot. Now is the time his bones are being formed, his blood is being made, his mind is being developed. To him we cannot say tomorrow. His name is today."

-Gabriela Mistral, Nobel Prize-winning Chilean Poet

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