Prof. Anne Kihiko
5 March 2012
According to the latest report of the International Labor Organization (ILO), 246 million children between the ages of 5-17 engage in child labor. The majority of the world's 211 million working children between the ages of 5-14 are found in Asia (127.3 million or 60%), in Africa (48 million or 23%), in Latin America and the Caribbean (17.4 million or 8%), and in the Middle East and North Africa (13.4 million or 6%). The rest can be found in both transitional and developed economies. Asia has the highest number of child workers, but Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest proportion of working children relative to population (Witwer, 5).
Child labour has existed for centuries as children were used to provide workers throughout the world in all industries. In the 17th C during the Industrial revolution, it was considered a given by the displaced families that children would go to work to bridge the gap in income that these families experienced. Indeed we do find prominent personalities writing about it like it was a normal issue, for example in Defoe’s day he thought it admirable that in the vicinity of Halifax, scarcely anybody above the age of 4 was idle (Cody, 1). The children of the poor were also forced to work by the economic conditions at the time as evidenced by Charles Dickens who found himself working at age 12 as his whole family was in the debtor’s prison. All children both male and female worked with no discrimination placed on neither gender nor age.
Most families and personalities thought that it was a good thing that children worked and thus started earning their keep early. It was considered good training for the young that they learnt a vocation very early and thus grew into it which would necessitate mastering it at an early age (Child Labour Publication Education Project a, 1). Also, it was taken to be advantageous that the children were...