What is child labour?
The labour they are undertaking could be harmful by making them sick, stopping them from getting an education or damaging them emotionally. It would be unlikely for a child who lives in New Zealand and works for an hour after school delivering leaflets to be called a child labourer because the work is not harmful to them. If the same child was working up to 30 hours a week they could be viewed as a child labourer as the amount of work might prevent them from going to school or doing school work and may not allow them any time to be able to meet with their friends.
The worst forms of child labour include using children as slaves or prostitutes, forcing them to sell drugs or commit crimes, and using them as soldiers in conflict situations and for other dangerous work. Often children found in these situations have been forced to do the work against their will. If children are trafficked to other centres within a country or to a different country altogether, it makes it harder for them to escape their situation and takes them away from their friends and families.
There are many reasons why children enter into work. For some children it is a choice but for others it is not. The reasons include:
- Being born into a poor family and working to earn money to help support them
- Getting work experience in order to be able to get a better job in the future
- In order to get food or to have somewhere to live
- To earn pocket money to purchase things they want
- Being the head of their household (there are a lot of child-headed households in Africa because of HIV and AIDS)
- Working to pay off money their parents owe
- They or their family members have been threatened with harm if they do not work
- Being taken against their will and being used by or sold to corrupt people
- Being offered jobs or tricked into accepting a job without understanding what is involved - often ending up in places which are unfamiliar
- There is an acceptable age in the community in which they live at which you are expected to work (this is often at an earlier age for girls).
- A lot of employees who use children do so because it is easier to get children to work in bad conditions than adults. They are also cheaper to employ.
There is no minimum wage for children in New Zealand under the age of 16; you can be paid whatever amount your employer thinks is best.
- How might this be harmful for some children?
- Do you think many young children in New Zealand work?
- Do you think there should be a youth wage?
- How might people take advantage of a youth wage?
- Can you see any benefits for a youth wage?
- Do you think their should be a minimum age for working in New Zealand?
- If one was introduced, should it include work done at home or only in businesses?
- Can you think of any reasons for this?
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