Child labour Essay Example

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There are various categories of child labor as defined through the lens of the International Labor Organization and they include; working children, child labor, worst forms of child labor, forced child labor and categorical worst forms of child labor (International Labour Organization, 2015). In broader terms, child labor can simply be defined as having children of minimum age work denying the child of its right to having a normal childhood for economic benefits that is for pay or for profit in the production of goods and services in various sectors of the economy. It is a sad situation that has been addressed widely by various organizations, nonprofit organizations, international organizations and governments among other relevant authorities. This paper therefore sets to compare the way the issue is presented through two anthropological texts, two reports from an international organization and two texts from the media in a bid to compare the way the issue is presented, the focus of the literature from the different sources, the way the arguments are presented by the literature with the hawk eye of critically analyzing the literature.

Position taken on Child labor

The issue of child labor has been a nagging issue in many countries. Child labor robs the child the right to its childhood, education among others. Sources used in this essay view child labor as a wrong in all aspects and no justification can be presented for having children work instead of being in school bettering their lives through education. The issue is even critical as documented by the ILO 2015, in the publication on World Report on Child Labor 2015: Paving the Way to Decent Work for Young People, that children often drop from school to work.

However, Nieuenhuys (1996) feels that, generalizing child labor as a wrong to children denies children the opportunity in the creation of value through work. Contrary to popular opinion advanced by the other authors that school is the gate pass, the antidote that is needed to combat child labor or rather the place that the child is supposed to be in bettering its life, Nieuenhuys (1996) contradicts this notion by arguing that, sometimes, the rigorist school system subjects children to failure due to high competition in class work and exams and therefore breed inferiority pushing the child to seek work which is rewarding and remunerative. Nieuenhuys presents a very different and refreshing shift in examining the role played by schools in combating child labor. Bass (n.d.), also acknowledges the importance of children working in contributing in the survival of some households especially in Africa.

Use of Theories

Majority of the sources used touch on socialization theory and the rapid economic competition. Anthropological sources explicitly use socialization theory and unfair economic completion as the theories best explaining the involvement of children in paid work while in the media and reports from international organizations, one has to deduce the theories used through inference.

The Focus of the Text

From the sources, the focus is on the working children. Sweeney (2011) described the issue of children working as watching a movie seeing very young children of 4 year olds work as street beggars. Whyte (2013) on the other hand challenges readers that 93 per cent of the clothes that they put on is sourced from countries that engages children in child labor in picking the cotton. The major focus of the literature is on the wrong done to children who are engaged in child labor. However, while the literature from the two texts from the media, report the issue of child labor just as it is on the ground, that is, investigating the cases of child labor on the streets as they are being used in begging and also, investigating whether companies really know whether children have been involved when picking cotton. From the two media texts, it can be said that, the issue is looked at from the point of reporting to the reader, while it is evident that, the reports from international organizations, the literature is beyond the mere reporting of the issue and addresses the root causes of the issues while at the same time trying to come up with policies that can be developed and implemented to combat child labor.

Media texts are narrow in their coverage of child labor for instance, Sweeney (2011) focus is on Britain child beggars while Whyte (2013) focus is on the use of child labor in the textile industry which can be seen as merely reporting. However, a shift is evident from the literature from the anthropological texts and international organizations as the issue of child labor is covered in broad terms and in a more inclusive manner. To give an example, In 2015 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor, the texts cover various country assessments aimed at giving a clear view of how various countries are faring on in eliminating the various forms of child labor. The ILO (2015), tries to exploit the linkages and the correlation that exists between child labor and youth employment. This gives the indication that, besides merely reporting, the reports from the anthropological texts and international organizations goes beyond merely reporting of facts concerning child labor. There is a broader coverage of the issue evidenced from the findings from various countries. It can therefore be said that, the latter gives a deeper comprehension and understanding of the issue of child labor to the reader and hence comprehensive.

Evidence Used

Among the six sources used, the evidence used in anthropological and the international organizations is collected from the actual research that was collected. Information that is reported in the texts shows that it was systematically collected and statistically proven to come up with the findings in the texts. A large population was used in studying the issue of child labor. For instance, more than 30 country assessments were done in the report, Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor. This shows that, the reports made, made reference to various countries and therefore data is not subjective to a particular region. On the other hand, the texts from the media, shows a narrow coverage of the issue, for instance, the report of child beggars in London which cannot be generalized to other areas. However, the video evidence from the media texts is a good way for the reader to experience the research first hand as if the reader is actually conducting the research as in the ‘The Secret Lives of Britain’s Child Beggars’ (Sweeney, 2011).

Key Difference between Sources

One of the striking difference between the sources is that, the reports from an international organization and the media are somehow decided and completely biased that child labor can be looked at from any other angle apart from that it is a bad practice in the modern era. It is however understandable and to some extent agreeable that it is wrong to use children to beg in streets so that families can afford their basic needs, have children pick cotton in fields and children dropping out of school to work. However, the anthropological texts introduces a new way of looking at child labor as a means through which the child contributes to the survival of some households. Bass (n.d.), acknowledges the importance of children in working for the survival of their families, although, he points out that, it depends on the age and the work that the child engages in. Nieuenhuys (1996) can also be seen arguing that, sometimes when children work, they engage in remunerative work that tries to uplift their status in the society. The anthropological texts seems to move away from the notion that having children work is as bad as is painted by the media and reports from international organizations and persuades the reader to critically examine the issue from a different perspective like Nieuenhuys (1996) proposes that, children can engage in work and at the same time coexist with children attending schools.


In conclusion, child labor is wrong in all aspects. By definition, child labor involves engaging children of a particular age for pay. However, when discussing issues of child labor, it is good to note that, not all work that the child engages in can be termed as child labor as, other activities that the child engages in are for helping in the survival of his or her family and for socialization with their peers. The blanket generalization that any work that a child may engage in is child labor should be reconsidered as indicated by some authors.


, vol. 27, no. 1, pp. 19-24. Anthropology of Work Reviewbased Work in Urban Areas of Senegal’, ‐Bass, L 1996, ‘Beyond Homework: Children’s Incorporation into Market

vol. 25, pp. 237-251. Annual Review of Anthropology, Nieuwenhuys, O 1996, ‘The paradox of child labor and anthropology’,

. World Report on Child Labour 2015: Paving the way to decent work for young peopleInternational Labour Organization 2015,—en/index.htmDownload from:

. Findings on the worst forms of child laborUnited Stated Department of Labor 2015,

, 18 August. Sydney Morning HeraldWhyte, S 2013, ‘Profits made on the back of child labour: report’,

, 2011, Panorama, BBC. The secret lives of Britain’s child beggars