Child labor is primarily employing minors in any work, which results in depriving children of their childhood. This form of labor interferes with the child’s ability to experience the mental, physical, and moral growth. Therefore, child labor exploitation is an unfair use of child labor by employers for their benefit due to the fundamentally asymmetric power relationship that exists between them. Child labor is prohibited across the world with strict legislations in place to protect children from exploitation by employers. However, there are some exceptions to the child labor laws. In particular, works done by child artists and supervised training are among the exceptions to the labor laws relating to the child labor. There are numerous factors, which affect the child labor either negatively or positively with the globalization being one of the major ones. Globalization is the integration and corporation of countries through the exchange of views and ideas. This paper will seek to illustrate the relationship between the globalization and child labor during the industrial revolution and the current century.
Child Labor during the Industrial Revolution
Throughout the history, child labor has been employed to varying extents in different countries and cultures. During the industrial revolution era (1820-1840), child labor was at its peak with children working in factories starting from the age of five. A research indicates that children between the ages of 5-14 years formed the work force in factories in the United Kingdom and the rest of the world. Notably, the industrial revolution was a crucial era in the United Kingdom, which facilitated the creation of the modern society. During this period, child labor was divided into two categories, namely the parish apprentice and the free labor children. The parish apprentice children comprised orphaned children, who were the first to be brought to the factory setting. Rich factory owners approached the parish leaders and negotiated a deal that would allow them to take children from the orphanages in their factories. One the other hand, the free labor comprised children employed in the production factories under unhealthy conditions and extremely low compensation, thus called the free labor.
The children in the factories were subject to long working hours and worked under dangerous and unhygienic conditions. Further, the children were subject to harsh punishment when they failed to comply with the set performance standards in the factories. For instance, the supervisors in the factories used to beat the children among other punishments. A most common punishment was commonly referred to as ‘weighted’. This form of punishment involved tying a heavy weight on the culprits’ neck and forcing them to walk along the factory aisles to serve as a deterrent to others. This punishment had serious implications on the health of the wearer, resulting in serious back and neck pains and injuries. Additionally, the children were denied even a recess to take their meals in between their shifts in the factories. The youngest ones who could not operate the heavy machinery were sent to assist the textile workers.
Accidents were rampant among the child labor due to the age, sex, and the kind of work done. Standing for long hours without rest resulted in back pains and spinal injuries with some of these injuries leading to crippling. Fatigue among the children also resulted in uncountable cases of fainting other fatigue-related incidences. Spinal injuries were among the most serious injuries and had the major impact on the health of the children. As a result, a significant number of the children working in the factory became paralyzed due to spine-related accidents and accidents in the factory.
Mentally, due to the lack of proper childhood and constant abuse, most children were constantly under depression. Their mental growth was also significantly affected due to the prevailing conditions. Spending the whole day in factories considerably influenced the normal mental growth of the children as they lacked the necessary environment for their growth. The working hours also restricted the time for the children to play with others, further complicating their mental growth.
Considering the facts mentioned above, one can state that the industrial revolution marked a significant advancement in England. However, the children working in the factories were denied their rights to being children as most of them grew up in the wrong environment, experiencing depression and injuries.
Child Labor in the Modern World
The percentage of child laborers has declined significantly from the 20th to the 21st century mainly due to the strict measures imposed to deter any employer from hiring or forcing children to work under unsafe environment. However, child labor persists in the large cities all over the world. The International Labor Organization (ILO) reported that although the percentage of child labor has reduced significantly in the 21st century, a number of children still work under deplorable conditions. Nowadays, the most widespread child labor is in various sweatshops across the globe. As defined by the department of labor, a sweatshop is any establishment or factory that violates a number of labor laws set forth by the regulatory bodies. They are characterized by exposing workers to considerably unsafe and unhygienic working environment. The children working in these sweatshops work for long hours without a fair wage or, sometimes, no wage at all, seven days per week. According to the ILO, the majority of the children in sweatshops is slaves in that their parents or other parties sold them to the owners of the sweatshops as a form of payment.
Poverty and unequal distribution of resources among the countries affected heavily influence this modern form of child labor. Poverty forms the base of child labor in most big cities, especially in the manufacturing and production cities in, for example, China and India. The common characteristics of the cities with considerable percentages of sweatshops are massive unemployment and population. The rural-urban migration to the towns causes an influx of labor, thus disrupting the forces of demand and supply. Children complain less and do not question the pay received at the end of the day; therefore, the majority of the sweatshops prefers children’s workforce to adults’ one. High population in the cities further facilitates the existence and the sustainability of the sweatshops. Further, the lack of proper monitoring by the relevant bodies on the issue of child labor worsens the situation in the sweatshops.
The children are the future leaders of their generations; therefore, their childhood should be protected. Their place in the society is vital to the advancement of the culture, economy, and the political agenda in the future. Consequently, there is a need to protect children from child labor and slavery, as the mental and physical injuries incurred by the children under the working conditions are irreversible. The children’s affairs should be paramount and strictly monitored to avoid deviations like those brought about by the child labor menace.