Entries by CLC Contributor

My Path from Strawberry and Blueberry Fields to College

By Alma Hernandez

Imagine being a five-year-old child; happy and carefree. The age where you either attend pre-k or start kindergarten. But can you imagine a five-year-old working in farm fields in hot 90-degree humid weather with her parents? I was that child. I wore a long-sleeved shirt, jeans, closed-toed shoes, and a hat to protect me from the hot sun. At five years old, I was unaware of how difficult agricultural labor is. My mom had enrolled me at the Redlands Christian Migrant Association (RCMA), a Migrant and Seasonal Head Start program, but she also wanted to teach me to value my education. 

My mother’s life lesson started during the weekend after I did not want to wake up for school. My mother remembers that I was full of confidence when asked if I wanted to go to work with her and my father. However, I did not know what was in store for me. 

Arriving at the fields around 7:30 am, I first saw endless rows of strawberry fields. I felt enthusiastic. My task: collect as many bright red strawberries as I could and place them in my pink Halloween bucket. After filling my bucket, I would give the strawberries to one of my parents. Around 12, I felt the heat. It was around 90 degrees. The humidity made it feel worse. I felt like I was in 100-degree weather; I did not like that at all and wanted to go home. I was already tired and asked if we could leave.… Read the rest

Experts: US High-Level Office for Children is Critical for Children’s Rights

Authors: Miriam Abaya, Nandita Bajaj, Warren Binford, Michelle Blake, Carter Dillard, James Dold, Hope Ferdowsian, Wendy Lazarus, Reid Maki, Shantel Meek, Jerry Milner, Jennifer Nagda, Vidya Kumar Ramanathan, Nevena Vuckovic Sahovic, and Jonathan Todres

 

In a recent series of workshops to address the lack of leadership for child rights in the United States, our participants identified the need for a high-level federal entity to oversee children’s issues.

The United States remains the only country in the world that has failed to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).[1] Adopted 32 years ago, the CRC is the most widely ratified human rights treaty in the world.

Currently, the United States falls short on various social and environmental determinants of child health and well-being, including poverty, health care access, nutrition, homelessness, and separation from family.[2] An analysis of the federal budget shows that children receive an inadequate share of government funds. For example, among the 37 nations in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States has the seventh highest child poverty rate and ranks second to last in family benefit spending.[3] Despite improvements in food security and housing stability for some children in the early 2000s, the COVID-19 pandemic and related recession have resulted in an increased number of children experiencing food and housing insecurity and declines in mental health while exacerbating long-standing racial, ethnic, and economic disparities.[4] Child uninsured rates increased for the first time in a decade, and Hispanic children, already nearly twice as likely as white children to be uninsured, have been disproportionately impacted.

Read the rest

Opinion: Child labor is on the rise; here’s how to prevent it

By Kunera Moore

Did you know that some of your favorite foods may be produced with child labor? The U.S. Labor Department, for example, named coffee as a product associated with child labor risk in 17 countries. This risk also remains widespread in cocoa, the main ingredient of chocolate: more than 60% of it is grown in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, where child labor remains widespread.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 635 million students are affected by full or partial school closures, UNICEF announced last week. And shuttered schools combined with frozen economies means more children are driven into the workforce, according to a recent report by UNESCO, UNICEF, and the World Bank.

A staggering estimate of 160 million children worldwide are involved in child labor, according to a 2021 International Labour Organization report based on data collected before pandemic-induced school closures. This marks an 8.4 million increase since 2016.

Yet over the past 20 years, remarkable strides have been made to decrease the number of children involved in child labor worldwide. The Sustainable Development Goal of eradicating all forms of child labor by 2025 gained new momentum for this pressing challenge in 2021, the international year for the elimination of child labor.

We can’t afford to lose this momentum.

“Ensuring all children return to school and stay in school requires urgent investments in education, social security, and poverty reduction.”

 

Seventy percent of children in child labor are working in agriculture — work that can be dangerous and exhausting with long hours under the hot sun.… Read the rest

Ending Child Labor in Mica Mines in India and Madagascar

By Katarzyna Rybarczyk 

Most people use products containing mica daily, without realizing what the story behind their production is. Mica is a mineral commonly found in products such as cosmetics, paints, and electronics. For most people living in the West, mica is simply something that makes these products shiny. However, extracting mica is often linked to the worst forms of child labor.

India and Madagascar are the two largest exporters of sheet mica globally, with most mica mining happening in illegal mines. The two countries are also the most associated with using children to extract the mineral.

Areas where mica mines are located struggle with high poverty rates, so mining mica is often the only thing that lets families put food on the table and survive. With families struggling to earn a living, children often have to supplement their parents’ income.

As mica mining is unregulated and, for the most part, thrives in hiding, there are many dangers associated with it.

The scale of the problem

The majority of illegal mica mines in India are located in just two states Bihar and Jharkhand, which are among India’s most impoverished. The governance there is weak, so the industry is subject to few, if any, regulations and labor exploitation of both adults and children occurs frequently.

It is estimated that 22,000 children work in mica mines in Jharkhand and Bihar, but as mines that employ children do not report it, giving the exact numbers is impossible.

According to the findings of the US Department of Labor, in Madagascar, around 10,000 children work in the mica sector.… Read the rest