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Rights and Wrongs of Children's Work

Rights and Wrongs of Children's Work

MICHAEL BOURDILLON
DEBORAH LEVISON
WILLIAM MYERS
BEN WHITE
Copyright Date: 2010
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Pages: 320
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt5hj7n8
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  • Book Info
    Rights and Wrongs of Children's Work
    Book Description:

    Rights and Wrongs of Children's Work, authored by an interdisciplinary team of experts, incorporates recent theoretical advances and experiences to explore the place of labor in children's lives and development.This groundbreaking book considers international policies governing children's work and the complexity of assessing the various effects of their work. The authors question current child labor policies and interventions, which, even though pursued with the best intentions, too often fail to protect children against harm or promote their access to education and other opportunities for decent futures. They argue for the need to re-think the assumptions that underlie current policies on the basis of empirical evidence, and they recommend new approaches to advance working children's well-being and guarantee their human rights.Rights and Wrongs of Children's Workcondemns the exploitation and abuse of child workers and supports the right of all children to the best quality, free education that society can afford. At the same time, the authors recognize the value, and sometimes the necessity, of work in growing up, and the reality that a "workless" childhood, without responsibilities, is not good preparation for adult life in any environment.

    eISBN: 978-0-8135-5021-3
    Subjects: Political Science, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. PREFACE
    (pp. ix-xvi)
  4. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  5. LIST OF FIGURES AND TABLES
    (pp. xix-xx)
  6. LIST OF ACRONYMS
    (pp. xxi-xxii)
  7. 1 Raising Questions, Questioning the Answers
    (pp. 1-21)

    In Europe and North America it is widely assumed that factory work is bad for children, a clear case of harmful “child labor.” In this chapter we introduce an example of working children in Morocco which disturbs such common assumptions and attitudes about child work. This example leads to reflection and questions on how children’s interests relate to adult interests, on the way we understand childhood, on children’s rights, and on the kinds of information needed to understand children’s work.

    Toward the end of 1995, a team from British Granada TV’sWorld in Actioninvestigated the labeling of garments made...

  8. 2 Work That Children Do
    (pp. 22-39)

    The most important thing to understand about children’s work is its enormous variety. As this chapter will detail, children are engaged in many different kinds of work. However, the vast majority of what they do is part time or seasonal, unpaid, involved in agriculture or homemaking, and is connected to their family. Relatively few children work full time, in paid jobs, away from family, or in factories, brickyards, mines or other situations that most people tend to think of as “child labor.” The reasons children work also differ greatly between individuals, families, societies, and situations. It is important to understand...

  9. 3 Children’s Work in Historical and Comparative Perspective
    (pp. 40-65)

    In this chapter we compare the history of children’s work, and ideas and interventions about it, in countries with different economic and social histories. We first take the case of Britain, where the notion and discourse of “child labor” as a social problem first appeared, and where the first attempts at its regulation were developed during the Industrial Revolution. We look at changing patterns of children’s work, factors that influenced these changes, and changing ideas about childhood, through the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. We then contrast brief histories of children’s work in two low-income countries, Zimbabwe and Indonesia. As...

  10. 4 Child Work and Poverty: A Tangled Relationship
    (pp. 66-87)

    In this chapter, we untangle the complex and varied connections between poverty and children’s work. Although poverty may affect household work as well as paid and unpaid work in the labor market, this chapter will focus on labor-market work, both paid and unpaid. Since a general assumption is that poverty is the main reason that children work, and the implication is that families are seeking resources beyond those they have, here we are examining the child as labor-force worker.

    Many adults in low-income countries are reluctant to condemn children’s work, because, as they frequently point out, many children take on...

  11. 5 Work in Children’s Development
    (pp. 88-107)

    The questions we raise in this chapter regard whether the legitimate concern about harm deserves to be the only major policy interest when considering working children. If the objective of policy is to promote children’s development, should not the contributions that work makes to development merit as much interest as the risks that undermine it? We argue that children are not well-served by one-sided policies and interventions that consider only threats that work may pose to child development and ignore its perhaps equally important benefits. Why should it be assumed that work risks are more important and deserving of attention...

  12. 6 Education, School, and Work
    (pp. 108-132)

    “Stop child labor! School is the best place to work.”¹

    This popular slogan inspiring a major international campaign against “child labor” sounds compelling because it supports children’s education and opposes work that keeps them from it. Its subtext is a widely shared belief that children’s work and schooling are incompatible, and that stopping children from productive work is necessary to ensure that they attend and succeed in school. This view is promoted by certain well-regarded experts and institutions, based on their reading of studies and official statistics that report negative correlations between child work and school attendance and achievement—the...

  13. 7 Children Acting for Themselves
    (pp. 133-154)

    Thembisa was thirteen years old, living in South Africa with her younger brothers aged seven and two. Their mother worked away from home and returned only once a month for a weekend. This is how Thembisa described her life.

    In the morning I wake up and make the fire. I warm up the water and then bathe my youngest brother. My mother is away working: she comes at the end of the month. Then I go take my brother to a neighbor and I go to school with my other brother. After school I fetch my little brother and then...

  14. 8 Assessing Harm against Benefits
    (pp. 155-179)

    As we have explained in the introduction to this book, we believe that it is not work as such that should be the focus of concern and the target of policies on children’s work, but rather the forms and conditions of work that may harm or abuse children. The question of defining and assessing “harm” thus becomes a key issue. Earlier chapters have given much attention to benefits of work to children, many of them often overlooked, to counteract widespread assumptions about the harmful nature of work. We have also considered how work relates to poverty and can sometimes impede...

  15. 9 The Politics of International Intervention
    (pp. 180-202)

    The discussion to this point has focused primarily on how work, and interventions in work, affect children as individuals. This chapter expands the optic to consider how national and international policies, institutions, and interventions governing children’s work play out in the national and international politics of “child labor.” The Méknès case, with which the book opened, presented a close-up study of how irresponsible coverage by British media of a small number of teenage girls working legally in a Morocco clothing factory rebounded disastrously on the girls. We heard them relate the devastating impact of being dismissed from their jobs as...

  16. 10 Policies and Interventions: What Should They Achieve, and How?
    (pp. 203-218)

    The long-traditional policy focus on “child labor” narrowly treats children’s work almost exclusively as a problem. It is time to replace this focus with a broader and more balanced vision that regards children’s work comprehensively and responds to its personal and social benefits as well as its risks. This book shows that such a paradigm change is needed. Experience demonstrates that the current approach is dysfunctional, too often ignoring or harming the children it is intended to help. Moreover, modern research into children and childhood indicates that work plays an important and appropriate developmental role in the lives of perhaps...

  17. NOTES
    (pp. 219-228)
  18. REFERENCES
    (pp. 229-254)
  19. INDEX
    (pp. 255-284)
  20. Back Matter
    (pp. 285-286)