Entries by CLC Contributor

Not So Sweet—Child Labor in Banana Production

By Ellie Murphy Americans eat a lot of bananas. The U.S. is world’s biggest importer of bananas, eating between 28 and 30 bananas per person per year. Worldwide, bananas are the most popular fruit with 100 billion consumed annually. The fruit is nutritious and cheap. Prices generally fluctuate between 30 cents and $1.00 per banana. It’s a great deal for the consumer, but someone is paying a heavy price to produce bananas: exploited farmworkers, including many children. The work is hard, often dangerous, and not fit for children—who just want to help their impoverished families. Stagnating banana prices have put the squeeze on farmers, leading some planters to hire the cheapest workers—children. Countries that use child labor to produce bananas include Ecuador, Belize, Brazil, Nicaragua, and the Philippines, according to the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor. Poverty is the main driver of child labor, but children in the developing world face barriers to accessing education that can also push them toward the work world. Barriers include paying for school fees, uniforms and books. In some countries, there aren’t enough schools, classrooms or teachers. Transportation problems also impact children’s ability to attend school. Child labor in the banana sector poses significant challenges to children’s’ health and overall well-being. Child workers employed […]

A 14-Year-Old Mulls “The Price of Freedom” and Decides to Engage in the Battle to End Child Labor

By Nikeeta Singh Nikeeta Singh is a 14-year-old student in New Delhi, India.   It is said that childhood is the best gift given to us by God. Everything is different when you’re a child: the trees are higher, the colours are more vivid than ever, and every new day is a new opportunity. However, childhood is not the same for all. For some it is waking up at six in the morning and working till the sun sets; it is staying away from your parents to earn minimum wages; it is working in inhumane environments in hopes of a brighter future. This is the reality of child labour. Child labour is experienced by every one in ten children around the globe. At the age when children should worry about their marks they are worrying about their health and economic status. But how can we blame these innocent angels? Uneducated parents are one of the major sources that contribute to child labour. It is the children of poor and marginalized communities who are often trafficked and forced into labour. Parents of these children are either betrayed or lured into schemes due to their lack of awareness and poor socio-economic conditions, forcing them to send or sell their children for better livelihood options. Traffickers promise daily wages to parents of young […]

The Impact of COVID-19 on Child Labor

By Ellie Murphy, CLC Intern Combatting child labor during a global pandemic is a staggering challenge. In countries like Ghana, the Ivory Coast, Bangladesh—and dozens more struggling with child labor problems—school cancellations and lost family income may push children into the labor market. Once in, it may be hard for them to get out and return to school. In the face of this dire emergency, governments, the corporate world, and charitable institutions will need to support vulnerable families during this unprecedented time.   There is a strong correlation between access to education and preventing child labor. An estimated 1.5 billion children are out of school. “Lack of access to education keeps the cycle of exploitation, illiteracy and poverty going – limiting future options and forcing children to accept low-wage work as adults and to raise their own children in poverty,” noted the children’s advocacy group Their World.  With 9 in 10 children across the globe prevented from attending school in person, Human Rights Watch notes that interrupting formal education will have a huge impact on children and jeopardize their opportunity for better employment opportunities in the future: “For many children, the COVID-19 crisis will mean limited or no education, or falling further behind their peers.” With many parents losing their jobs, children will face increasing pressure to supplement family incomes. Poverty […]

Why child labour cannot be forgotten during COVID-19

By Jacobus de Hoop, Eric Edmonds This article originally appeared on UNICEF’s web site on May 14, 2020. By Jacobus de Hoop, Eric Edmonds14 May 2020   © UNICEF/Shehzad NooraniWhile collecting water, a young girl child stands holding her donkey near a water point outside her village in Sudan. In just a matter of weeks, the COVID-19 outbreak has already had drastic consequences for children. Their access to education, food, and health services has been dramatically affected across the globe. The impact has been so marked, that the UN Secretary General has urged governments and donors to offset the immediate effects of the COVID-19 crisis on children. In discussions of the pandemic to date, child labour (i.e. forms of work that are harmful to children) has played only a marginal role. Yet, as we describe in this blog, child labour will be an important coping mechanism for poor households experiencing COVID-related shocks. As global poverty rises, so too will the prevalence of child labour. Increased parental mortality due to COVID-19 will force children into child labour, including the worst forms such as work that harms the health and safety of children. Temporary school closures may have permanent implications for the poorest and most vulnerable. Limited budgets and reductions in services for families and children will compound the effects of the health, economic, and social crisis. We expect millions […]

Mother’s Day Special from a 13-Year-Old Girl: Why 13-Year-Olds Shouldn’t Be Married

  Written by 13-year-old Kiran Kochar McCabe, this piece was originally published in the Huffington Post on May 11, 2015. Today is Mother’s Day, the day of the year when we celebrate our mothers. But in so many countries, mothers are far too young. In fact, in many places in the developing world, girls are more likely to become mothers than to finish school. I am a 13-year-old girl who loves to read the Hunger Games and sing songs by Taylor Swift. On weekends, I like to go to the movies with my friends. It’s hard for me to imagine being a 13-year-old married mother. Did you know that by the time you finish reading this article, about 52 girls under the age of 18 will have just been married? Consider these facts. One-third of girls in the developing world are married before they turn 18. In Niger, a country in West Africa, more than half of girls under 18 are married. If I lived there, I would likely be married with children celebrating me on Mother’s Day, rather than me thinking about what gift to give my mom. I started learning about the difficulties girls face around the world at a young age when I became involved with the global poverty-fighting organization CARE. Since the age of 7, I’ve […]

Migrant Farmworker Children Struggle to Hold On

By Vashti Kelly, Health and Safety Program Manager, Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs   Children from Latino migrant farmworker families are some of the most educationally marginalized students in the United States. They experience significant stressors and risks directly related to the circumstances surrounding the migrant farmworker lifestyle, which are linked to maladjustment as well as lower academic engagement and success. Migration alters the composition of the family dynamic in many different ways.  In each scenario, however, the children are negatively impacted by it- when they are left behind by parents; brought along by parents; or when they migrate alone, without parents or guardianship.  Additional stressors include social exclusion, which is defined by Duffy as the “inability to participate in economic, social, and cultural life, and in some characteristics, alienation and distance from mainstream society.”[1] For migrant farmworker children, social exclusion often manifests itself as prejudice and discrimination in the academic setting. As a former teacher in a predominantly agricultural community, I can attest to the lack of assimilation among Latino farmworker children.  Being children, they are not always equipped with the tools to deal with their feelings, and so they manifest as disruptive behavior or failing grades.  Although we as adults tend to compartmentalize our lives, it’s not so simple for children, in particular farmworker children, who are shouldering additional burdens.  It […]

How Climate Change Can Make More Children Vulnerable to Human Trafficking

By Colleen O’Day Hurricane Maria, the worst natural disaster ever to hit Puerto Rico, wipes out the island’s power grid. A heat wave nicknamed Lucifer scorches southern Europe. Hurricane Harvey, the second-costliest Atlantic tropical cyclone in history, submerges Texas and Louisiana under trillions of gallons of rain. Drought again grips East Africa, leaving millions of people short of food and water. Natural disasters have always been a part of the weather cycle. But with climate change, the cycles of floods and droughts are expected to grow both more frequent and more severe. That may well drive more children around the globe into the hands of human traffickers. Poverty and natural disasters are a recipe for desperation. In 2015, Nepal, where 1 in 5 children under 18 are laborers – one of the highest rates in the world – was rocked by a pair of earthquakes that left some 3 million people homeless. World Vision, GoodWeave, and other nonprofit organizations working on the ground in Nepal found signs that the calamity had led to dramatic increases in child labor and child trafficking. Global criminal rings exploit any disruption to people’s lives to lure victims into bonded labor, fraudulent adoptions, coerced commercial sex, or outright slavery. Extreme weather exacts the greatest suffering on the world’s poorest people. And children are the most […]

127 Groups Ask EPA Not to Reverse Ban on Pesticide Application by Children

Dear Administrator Pruitt: The undersigned organizations write to oppose any changes by the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) to the requirements in the Agricultural Worker Protection Standard (“WPS”) and Certification of Pesticide Applicators rule (CPA). Over 15 years ago, an EPA report stated that “pesticide poisoning in the United States remains under-recognized and under-treated…despite the ubiquity of pesticides in our homes, workplaces, and communities, and despite the considerable potential for pesticide-related illnesses and injury.” Farmworkers have one of the highest rates of chemical exposures among U.S. workers and they suffer acute pesticide poisoning every year through occupational exposures and pesticide drift. Studies have shown that agricultural workers suffer serious short- and long-term health effects from exposure to pesticides. The WPS and CPA rules provide vital protections from exposure to toxic pesticides for hired farmworkers, pesticide applicators, their families and the general public in communities across the United States. In revising these rules, the EPA recognized that the weight of evidence suggests that the new requirements, “will result in long-term health benefits to agricultural workers, pesticide handlers,” and “to certified and noncertified applicators, as well as to the public and the environment.” After more than a decade of stakeholder input and analysis, the EPA revised the WPS and CPA rule to prevent injury and illness to the children, women and men who work […]

Guest Blog: Ending ‘Temporary Protected Status’ May Increase Human Trafficking of Children

By Colleen O’Day       With one sweeping announcement, the Trump administration recently began dismantling an almost 30-year-old program that has sheltered some of the nation’s most vulnerable immigrants from being forcibly returned to their homelands. So far, almost 250,000 adults and children from El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Haiti – most of whom arrived here illegally – have been stripped of their Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and given months to leave the U.S. Begun in 1990, the humanitarian program exempted from deportation people who fled natural and man-made disasters in their countries. At the same time, the White House has embraced a broader approach to immigration that equates open borders with permitting “drugs and gangs to pour into our most vulnerable communities,” as President Trump said. Taken together, the Trump administration’s actions have diminished the U.S.’s historical role as a safe harbor for the world’s refugees. And some of the foreigners denied entry may well fall prey to human traffickers, says Annalisa Enrile, professor at the University of Southern California’s online Doctor of Social Work program. Some 21 million people around the world are victims of human trafficking, forced or deceived into modern-day slavery and the sex trade. Traffickers exploit poverty and desperation – and children may be most vulnerable of all. Enrile says people living in nations riven […]

Teen Workers May Be Dying to Produce Sugar in Nicaragua

By Deborah Andrews, Contributing Writer Legal protections for children working in hazardous conditions in Nicaragua are robust on paper, but systematic publicity, implementation and enforcement of the law is missing. Nicaragua has ratified all of the core international covenants in regards to child labor and has passed national laws that clarify in which hazardous environments child labor is prohibited, but the positive impact of these has not become reality. In 2015, La Isla Foundation produced a report entitled, ‘Cycle of Sickness: A Survey Report on Child Labor in the Nicaraguan Sugarcane Fields of Ingenio San Antonio’ which investigated child labor among Nicaraguan sugarcane workers. Agriculture, particularly the rapidly expanded sugarcane industry, is one of the most hazardous sectors of the economy and child labor within it is widespread. Nearly four in 10 Nicaraguan children live in poverty.  In rural areas poverty, affects 50% of children. The Teenage pregnancy rate is 23.3%. Only 49% of Primary School students successfully completed 6th Grade and over 72% of the population does not finish Secondary School. Child labor is a major problem in the country and a huge barrier to education, reducing life-time earnings for many individuals. Nicaragua is the only Latin American Country where school is compulsory only up to age 12, as opposed to age 15 in all others. Although illegal for […]