Human Wellbeing Inquiry Child Labour

Human wellbeing is the recognition that everyone around the world aspires to live well. This disregards a person’s culture, geography, age, religion, political environment and income. It’s defined by the accessibility of people for the things that they need in order to live happy, healthy lives. However certain issues like natural disasters, human trafficking and child labour can prevent people from reaching this contented life. This inquiry shall specifically review the issue of child labour, it’s causes, impacts and responses. Child labour occurs worldwide and is an ongoing issue that needs to be stopped. It’s important to recognise that ‘child labour’ has many faces and the worst forms include slavery, soldiering, prostitution and drug trafficking. Geographical inquiry questions important to this issue and will be answered in this investigation include, ‘why does child labour exist?’, ‘how does child labour affect the futures of these children?’ and ‘how and what are people doing in order to help these children and stop this issue?’.


Child labour is a global issue that affects and prevents children’s ability to achieve happiness in life in terms of human wellbeing. In today’s modern world, child labour exists mainly because of poverty and lack of access to education. Due to poverty, families are forced to rely on child labour in order to attain basic needs specifically in places like Africa, Asia and Latin America. Considering the lower economically developed countries especially, the lack of access to free compulsory education can limit futures and force labour as their only way of earning income. Laws, regulations and standards in certain countries could also be considered factors in child labour. Since laws are so vague and lenient this allows violations of these standards and misguidedly dub what is truly ‘child labour’ as perfectly ‘legal work’. Examples of this include places like Nepal where 14 is the minimum working age but doesn't include labour in plantations and brick kilns. In Kenya, law prohibits any industrial work under 16 however doesn't discuss work within agriculture. In Bangladesh, they specify a specific work age yet don't set regulations on any domestic or agricultural work. Children are also known be nimble for the tedious work, obedient and cheap workers making them easily exploitable for a cheap price. This also makes them in demand for employers, continuing the endless cycle of child labour from generation to generation.


In many ways, exposure to child labour can affect a child mentally and physically, it affects their beliefs in human rights and basically steals an important part of every person’s life, childhood. Besides being denied any education, child labour can fundamentally prohibit a child’s personal development, emotional support form their family and limits their social skills. This only adds to the physical and mental/ psychosocial effects of this labour that children as young as five could be experiencing. Physical labour would involve common body injuries and limb mutilations due to a badly kept machinery in farms and factories. Plantations have many machete accidents and dangerous hazards in general for work places like mining, ceramic and fireworks manufacture for any child. Agricultural labour can also have it’s life-changing effects because it statistically has higher rates of injury, children are forced to work with dangerous machines and sharp tools. They are also exposed to pesticides which in Sri Lanka, kills more than diseases like diphtheria, malaria, polio and tetanus combined. Globally, there is 40,000 deaths due to pesticides and chemical work year.

Such harsh working circumstances could only get worse as labourers don't have access to proper clean water and hygiene facilities like toilets. Exposure to child labour can cause growth deficiencies, making children shorter and lighter due to the rapid skeletal growth therefore have smaller statures in adulthood. They have higher chemical absorption rates, lower heat tolerance and are left underdeveloped due to exhaustion and malnutrition. Long-term health issues can be contracted from this work including respiratory disease, asbestosis and a variety of cancers due to the exposure of chemical work. Each year, over a million children are forced into prostitution and they commonly contract HIV/AIDS, fall pregnant, become drug addicts or become mentally ill. Exposure to child labour can lead to major mental and psychosocial effects. This includes limiting their learning and social abilities, as well as their ability to assess risks. The worst forms of child labour especially (slavery soldiering, prostitution,drug trafficking) can leave them with the long- lasting effect of trauma on their mental health and socioeconomic effects.


Organisations like the International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC) formed in 1922 with the intent to stop child labour worldwide. They fight to do so through country-based programmes on policy reform, building institutional measures to end child labour, raise awareness and change society’s attitudes towards this issue. The IPEC provides educational policy advice and technical assistance to ensure that education’s power can prevent child labour from an at-risk child and allow rehabilitation. For example, other events/ organisations like the Bangladesh Building and Woodworks Federation and the Metal Workers Union seek to remove children form hazardous work and instead enrol children in education and assistance programs. There’s a Global Campaign for Education (teachers unions), Global March Against Child Labour (promotes awareness of the issue), Oxfam and Action Aid.

All of these organisations and events use some kind of strategy to help end child labour. Fighting for free education, campaigns to change public opinion, create universal minimum standards and give support to worker struggles, organise unions and reject child labour overall. Instances like in 2001, factory monitors confirmed illegal union-busting and other violations. An international solidarity campaign helped a factory overcome violence, intimidation and mass firings when they tried to organise a union, eventually the workers wont themselves an independent union. In 2002, news of child labour abuse and attacks on workers in Ecuador’s banana plantations, so people (workers, consumers and students alike) contacted the plantation owner to cease he illegal use of children. A new strategy to promote awareness and deter the use of child labour would be the FairTrade symbol on consumer goods. They mark legible products free from any form of child-labour on packaging and promote awareness by advertising the horrors of child labour, spreading awareness and action.

Child labour is an issue in today’s modern world that greatly hinders people’s human wellbeing and ability to achieve happy lives. Poverty and lack of access to education play a huge role in why it exists in today’s society, especially in lower economically developed countries, forcing families to have to rely on a child’s income just to attain basic necessities. Labour from a young age essentially steals a person’s childhood, in which no one has the right to do so. The physical and mental toll on the body and mind of these children can really be detrimental for their health and could affect them for the rest of their lives, making futures and self development seem unlikely as the cycle keeps going. However the world is nonetheless taking action, organisations like the International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour work to slowly eradicate child labour though education. Other non-government organisations and events are used in order to raise awareness and to fight for the rights of wellbeing. Current responses to this issue in my opinion aren’t prominent enough to motivate normal people like me to want to take action to help these children. However this could also just because of my geographical place in the world and shows how Australia does interact with the rest of the world. Possibly if the independent organisations could get more funds from allied countries to help the LEDC countries of the world, we’d be on step closer to gaining peace on earth and human wellbeing for all. In my opinion, wellbeing could improve though awareness. If everyone in this world at least knew the definition of human being and what their rights are as a person, everyone around the world would learn to fight for themselves to live that happy life.



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