The concept of childhood being view as a social construction has entirely changed over time due to the outcome of political, social and cultural battles between groups with distinct ideas about the best way to care for children. As a result, this paper aims to argue why there is a need to eliminate child work.
Concept of Childhood/ Child labour
In order to consider childhood from a social constructionist view is to discover the meaning which individual’s attribute to childhood within a particular cultural context. Childhood is a global proven and throughout past, which sometimes considers a child as innocent, helpless, a consumer, a worker with other household employee, a danger to society and it is a construction that shifts over time (Prout, 2010). Historians of childhood have maintained over the meaning, such as Arie?s and Baldick, (1996) affirmed that the concept of ‘childhood’ did not occur before the seventeenth century; thus children were small adults with the same skills, privileges and obligations. Hence childhood varies from society to society and its context based on diversity, the belief of the people and their culture (Mhic Mhathu?na and Taylor, 2012:40-42). Childhood can be described as the early stage of all human life in all societies and cultures. Not all people in the world have the same idea of childhood which proves that childhood is neither global nor natural (Rea, 2008; Basu, 2003 & Ali Norozi and Moen, 2016; Mhic Mhathu?na and Taylor, 2012:41). However, according to James & James (2012:122) ‘states that social construction is a theoretical view that investigates how reality collaborated in everyday life through community’s communications and sets of discourses’. Also, Kehily (2013) affirms that social constructionist picture develop a discourse within which children are not yet adult as they are in the process of developing rather than the person. The socially constructed of childhood is signifies that the understanding of childhood is not a biological process. Instead, it is the society which agrees when a child is a child and when a child becomes an adult; for that reason, the concept of childhood cannot be separated as it tangled with the societies factors (Ali Norozi and Moen, 2016; Mhic Mhathu?na and Taylor, 2012). However, despite the comprehensive understanding on the above of what people mean by childhood and the position children take is not steady but differs across times, States and Nations. There is significant variation in what people in diverse cultures think about the place of children in society, involving what children should and shouldn’t be doing at particular times as well as how children must be socialised at a particular stage at which they should be viewed as adults. As a result, sociologists articulate that childhood is in a social context (Mhic Mhathu?na and Taylor, 2012:39). Observing from social constructionist viewpoint, the concept of the developing child associated with psychology and the work of Piaget in particular represent childhood in terms of deficiency (James and Prout, 1997). Childhood in other hand is shaped by the political, economic and cultural conditions of society which impacts on children developmental ways. This signifies that childhood possess a certain degree which is established and termed by the people (Ali Norozi and Moen, 2016).
A child is considered to be every human being young than 18years unless the majority in the law which applies to the child is differed (Wild, 2013:25; Noguchi, 2002; Balton, 1990). Looking at the meaning of child indicates that every child need to have freedom, obligation, and rights to be educated and as such, no child should be forced to work as they need special protection and care to grow into adulthood. Article 3 of the UNCRC highlighted the best interests of children must be the primary concern in making choices that may influence them. Addition, United Nation Convention Rights of the Child 1989(UNCRC) lay down possible standards which enforced Countries to give children an atmosphere and care, which will educate young children and enjoy their freedoms (Noguchi, 2002; Balton, 1990; Lawrence-Karski, 1996). Therefore adults should ensure that children have acquired what the best suit their development. Under the law, a child work signified as labour to children which is unfair and illegal to children under the age of 18 which is believed to be harmful to their physical, emotional, social, spiritual and cognitive development (Woodhead, 2004; O’Donnell, Rosati and van Doorslaer, 2005). Additionally, the Children Act, (2001) terms harm as an illegal action which comprises of neglecting children to different kinds of abuse (Irish Statute Book). However, Parton (2012) advocated that resolving of what must be considered child work are socially constructed, and are therefore reflective of the ethnicity and values at a particular period. Children who are involved in child work may learn how to be productive and may become independent and mature citizens. However, the children working in these types of activities deprived them of attending school regularly and socialise with their peers (Wild&Street, 2013; Rea, 2008; Fassa, Parker and Scanlon, 2010).
Child work is a reality of life for children in many countries, and it is an issue that involves us all. It is the concern of everyone to participate in the banned of child work.Child work is not a new issue because it has been existent in every part of the world since ancient periods. In a recent history, it appeared as a concern during the industrial revolt when children were made to work in dangerous conditions for up to 12 hours a day. In 1860, fifty percent of children in Ireland between the age of five and fifteen years were labouring. In 1919, the world embarked on to report the concern of child work and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) implemented standards to eradicate it. During the 20th Century, some legally binding agreements and international conventions were made, but despite these, child work continues to till this day (Rea, 2008:5). But the fact that there are many third world countries experiencing economic hardship which puts children in a state of working in an unsafe and unsuitable environment that influence their adolescence, there is a need to ban because every child deserves a better education. Child labour is a difficult problem that requires inclusive solution. The most significant result is to provide children their right to be educated and feel secure. Though there are individual charity organizations over there trying to reduce the rate of young children working in such counties still child work exists living children to work in an environment with no access to toilet and drinking amenities (ILO, 2013).
Effects of child labor
However, with regards to the measures laid down in the world to care for every child, the problem of child work deprived countless children of their most basic privileges. However, organisations such as United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), Concerned for Working Children (CWC), and International Labour Organization (ILO) report estimated number of 266 million children die from child work. Therefore, there is the need to ban to save these children live to build a better nation for them to live in and enjoy childhood experience. Up till now, there are disadvantaged children in most countries who spent their early days in work, rather than schooling. The truth is, many families can’t do without supplemental earnings and encourage their children to go to factories instead of sending them to school (UNICEF Study, 2011). Evidence of this has been established in rich countries, including the US and Europe. Nowadays, most States have child-work acts which support children education regardless of the child’s family’s economic background (Dessy and Knowles, 2001). Even though implementation policies have put in order in countries to discourage child work as well as increase schooling by reducing the cost of education using educational grants, there are still young children who worked in numerous hours in hazardous factories to earn money to cater for themselves and their families (Edmonds and Pavcnik, 2005). According to contemporary economic theories of the household, Becker (1976) and Rosenzweig & Evenson (1977) argued that selfless parents only send their children to work when this increases the welfare of the family. Consequently, the laws mandating compulsory education can only diminish the protection of households, particularly those children who come from disadvantaged families. Having argued that, child work can have significant effects on the health and overall development while working in hazardous conditions for a very long time. If these children got injured at work, they would often receive inadequate medical treatment, if any at all. Some people may say that children working and earning money can be a positive experience in a child’s growth, but this can have long-term health problems due to malnutrition, exposure to chemicals, abuse and weariness (O’Donnell, Doorslaer and Rosati, 2005; Woodhead, 2004). Child work is a global issue linked with poverty, inadequate educational, opportunities and gender inequality (Roggero et al., 2007). Children working takes away children essential rights and freedom of education which might undermine the usefulness of the classroom; therefore, it needs to ban to allow children to acquire these privileges set by UNCRC. Child work deprived children of being attached to their parents, families, and friends as they are exposed to the dangerous environment to find themselves hawking on the street to make means (Rea, 2008). Also, with regards to their young age, they often inexpensive to employ and can be expelled quickly. Policies are not mandatory to companies, and most of the businesses incline to abuse this situation while living adults face difficulties to find work due to child work. Adults feel inefficient and embarrassed when they cannot help their family due to these societal problems (UNICEF STUDY, 2011; Edmonds and Pavcnik, 2005).
Although there are principles and laws in place to forbid child work, they are not compulsory in the agricultural, fishing, manufacturing, mining, and, domestic sectors henceforth it needs to stop for all, as these influences the lives of numerous children. There countries who are still employing young children and haven’t convicted (Moehling, 1999). Though, policies and legislation set to eradicate child work in the globe, there are countries such as Asia, Africa and West American who still employ children to work instead of offering them an education. Due to the improper education system in the rural areas as well as needy families with low income which has led to an estimated number of 151.6 million children aged five to seventeen in child labour. These children engage in rough employment and low pay salaries which is dangerous to them (Rea, 2008; Mazhuvanchery, 2017; ILO, 2013; Lleras?Muney, 2002). Though, these evaluations don’t include household responsibilities for girls who usually do most of the house chores were not incorporated into the description of child labour (UNICEF Study, 2011). According to International Labour Organization (ILO), eradicating child labour can offer children a genuine education and boost the income of the world by four trillion. The reason is that it will provide the adult with the chance to get work with decent pay to increase the economy (Mazhuvanchery, 2017).
Likewise, the agreement of India constitution of compulsory free education for children age four to fourteen and prohibiting children from working; there is still rampant child labour in the informal sectors of the country economy (Roy, 2011). Ghana, on the other hand, has some higher percentages of children aged 5-17 years engaged in child labour in which boys are the higher rate than girls. The Rural savannah had the highest rate of children in child labour, between the ages, 12-14 years were more likely to be engaged in child work. However, there is a higher percentage of boys than girls participating in economic occupation (Uebelhoer, 2008). Similarly, there one-third of children from developing countries falling to complete four years of their formal education (Barrett, 2017). The causes of children workers have made it a difficult to implement the UNCRC in all the countries with the same emphasis. Child work may be helpful to some of its victims, but on the other hand, it removes young children from their childhood and potentials (Basu, 2003).
In 2008, a study conducted by UNICEF which has an estimated 215 million girls and boys involving in child labour and which has interfered with academic and their overall development (Mazhuvanchery, 2017). Furthermore, child labour has consequences influence on children psychological, physiological and their mental health. Lack of financial is one of the components of child work according to UK committee for UNICEF as these children supposed to earn from an early age to assists themselves and their families. Likewise, these children are forced to steal or indulge in prostitution due to excess population and poverty. Despite this, these children who are involved in child labour are often used by an adult for sex, set off into early marriages with no experiences as well as sexual images while these will damage children future. The above description will put children at higher risk of sexually transmitted disease, malnutrition, and physical abuse and it turns to affects children intellectual abilities and less ability for reasoning (Ali Norozi and Moen, 2016; ILO,2013; Fassa, Parker and Scanlon, 2010). Therefore, eradicating child labour will help children to share a typical course of physical changes and development.
On the order hand, children who involve themselves in the robbery, hijacking cars, stolen goods, and shoplifting or forced to take part in criminal activities can leave a child without a childhood. Behaviour like this will put children in a state of panic, anxiety, and depression instead of spending time playing with friends and families. Therefore, they always feel powerless and never feel safe (Basu, 1999). The reason is that all these types of work interfere with children education as most children have neither time nor the energy to attend school. For instance, these children may have to bend over in one place or crawl in small areas which can generate disfigurement, spinal injuries and difficulty to walk straight (ILO, 2013; Hobbs, McKechnie and Lavalette, 1999).
More so, the efforts intended to strengthen child protection on societal norms there is still societal practice that harms children with the belief that females are well off working at home, which subsequently refuses them their right on education just because they are females. Focusing on this norm can positively impact female’s education and aid end their right to education (UNICEF Study, 2011). Overall, understanding the effects that influence child work education attendance, performance or achievement depends on significant of what children would accomplish if they were not employed, and this is a primary challenge for this debate.
Child labour has become issues in many areas of the world. Several children in emerging countries have been engaged to work for their families to live on; all the same, this is the part the government needs to assist these families and their children. The government should enforce laws and establish plans that would prevent these children from being pushed to work. However, generating education more appealing can be used as a policy implement to reduce child work and might work best when combined with provisional money allocations programs for families that send children to school, for instance, uniform, food for education in Third World countries. In this manner, providing policies that obtain to reduce the costs of education while increasing quality of education. Also initiating policies that preserve children from working in one type of job might push them into worse forms of child work. Global supporters have been active in supporting similar affirmative programmes that recognise the link of poverty and child work hence these plans appear promising; it is vital to raise awareness in schools about the effect of child work. In agreement with international standards, legislation on child work should go together with policy interventions that offer alternatives in the form of education and vocational training, along with societal protection procedures that benefit children and their families.
Social construction suggests various ideas from which children can be regarded. These ideas are attached to cultural meaning which the regards of the impacts on social, political and economic conditions on children lives as well as the creative ways in which children engage in social interaction and the effects of prevailing patterns of child-adult relationships
Child work has the significant impact on children, erecting awareness about the dangerous implications of child work can help challenge the beliefs of tradition. Regulations denying child work are also vital to promote societal change. Giving clear consequences in legislation denouncing child work and other child rights can contribute to positive changes in social standards and public mind-sets, challenging discriminatory ideas based on gender, societal and status. The above are crucial aspects of keeping children safe from abuse and child work. Banning working children into school will insist on more flexible and approachable education structures, with better-quality learning atmospheres. Therefore, free education should be accessible to all and institutions must be reliable, inclusive, and stipulate child-friendly environment for learning. Similarly, several changes need to improve the labour detection of illegal child work in agricultural, fishing and mining to enhance the protection of these children’s health, safety, and educational opportunities. This kind of changes will assist labour market and policymakers to get the better understanding of protecting the rights of every child as stated by UNCRC.
Moreover, the understanding of the social construction of childhood provides a useful framework to articulate some of the issues concerning social work when working with families and their children. Although, empowering children does not mean that they can do anything they want without considering their competence but rather a means of involving them in decision and matters that impact on their lives. According to Lynch and Browne (1999) argued that the commitment of respecting children’s privilege does not mean abandoning their welfare.