Working Children Call for Action by Different Groups of People
Through consultations within the “It’s Time to Talk! – Children’s Views on Children’s Work” campaign over 1,800 working children from all over the world had the chance to express their wishes, demands and suggestions on what others could do to help improve their situation. With the Flower of Support-Tool they were able to illustrate the different groups of people that influence their lives and how these people could help them.
The following ideas where expressed by children in 81 consultations across every region:
What Can Parents Do?
Besides loving, caring and being there for the children parents should pay special attention to their education. When they send them to school and prioritise their education over work, in the long run the children have better chances at getting a good job and earning more money so that they can escape the vicious circle that is being so poor that children have to work and in turn having no education and not being able to get a good paying job. Furthermore children would like their parents to take responsibility to meet all their basic needs like food, shelter, clothes as well as school materials. This includes not overwhelming their children with housework.
What Can Governments Do?
One of the main reasons children work is the need to support their family. When their parents either do not have a job or do not earn enough money to provide for the whole family, they feel obligated to help out. In order to take away this incentive for children to work, the participants suggested that governments should invest in creating jobs especially in poor areas. Concrete measures could be training and livelihood and grant schemes. Furthermore it should be made easier for refugee parents to get a work permission. Social protection schemes and family-support services are other examples for a way the government can help better the situation of families of working children.
Like the parents the government is requested to care for the children’s education as well. They should provide free access to high-quality schools for everyone. On the one hand this means to improve school infrastructure. It should be made possible that children from every area in the country have access to a school with well trained teachers and sufficient and affordable learning equipment. In addition there should be a focus on inclusion. Children with disabilities have a right to education as well as any other kid.
Regarding possible laws and policies children from all over the world suggested governments should ensure that children are protected from harmful forms of work. Opinions differed however to which extent child work should be banished. While children from eleven consultations in ten countries focused on the fight against the harmful kind, children from 13 different consultations in six countries demanded the stop of all child work. However it is not entirely clear, if they mean all forms of work and every age.
What Can Other Children Do?
In the consultations the children expressed a wish to get support from their peers. They can advise and encourage each other. Working together can help to protect them from exploitation and to raise their voices against violations of child rights.
What Can Employers Do?
Employers should treat children with dignity and respect. That includes refraining from scolding, ahouting, humiliating, beating or pressuring them. There are a few working conditions the children wish for:
- reasonable working hours
- sufficient breaks and time off to rest, play and study
- fair wages, paid on time
- being provided with the necessary (safety) materials
“The employer shouldn’t try to take advantage of the child and the employer must respect the law and child right […] The employer must allow the children to take a rest, protect the children, and pay salary according to the law”
– CAC members from Thailand
What Can the Police Do?
The police can help twofold:
On the one hand they should punish criminals. Abusive employers who exploit children should face the consequences for their actions.
On the other hand the police can help through their interactions with the children themselves and their families. They should be approachable so that the children are not afraid to ask for help. Furthermore they can mediate in domestic conflicts and inform parents about existing laws and child rights.
What Can Teachers and Schools Do?
Besides providing high-quality education teachers and schools can help working children through communication with the parents about the importance of sending children to school. Furthermore everyone should be able to afford education. As a result children from a poor background should be offered tuition-free schools.
In addition children from the consultations had some suggestions for the way of teaching. It should be softly and without violence or discrimination. Schools should be a safe and inclusive place for everyone.
“Teachers should eliminate harsh punishments for children.”
– Children in Tanzania who attended school and worked as small-scale vendors
What Can NGOs and INGOs Do?
There are different areas in which NGOs can help working children. Again, the children from the consultations stressed the importance of education. NGOs can help in this area as well. For example, they can identify children that are not in school and help them enrol. Furthermore they can provide materials and talk to the parents about the importance of education.
Besides helping working children get access to education NGOs should also undertake advocacy and raise awareness on topics like education and the protection from harmful work. Governments officials as well as police, parents, caregivers, employers, teachers, community members and children should be informed about child rights and child labour laws.
NGOs can also help in distributing aid and cash assistance. Working children mostly come from a poor background with no access to clothes, school materials or medicine. NGOs can facilitate the distribution of these goods. In addition they can offer vocational training to parents/caregivers as well as to adolescents to provide them with a chance of breaking the cycle of poverty that forced the children into work in the first place.
Furthermore the children from the consultations asked NGOs to help them participate in the debate about their rights. NGOs can support children and make their voices be heard.
What Can the Community and Religious Elders Do?
Religious elders should help children in their spiritual development. Furthermore they can, together with the whole community, influence parents to ensure the children’s education. With their help children can be protected from abuse and exploitation and they can use their influence to promote child rights.
You Want to Know More?
The detailed findings of the consultations including statistics and information about regional differences can be found in the main report and summed up in the child-friendly version. If you are interested in the methodology of the study, the tool kit that was used is available for free download.