World Day Against Child Labor, 12 June 2014

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Sarah Joanne Jakubowski, Africa CorrespondentLast Modified: 22:25 p.m. DST, 11 June 2014

Group of breaker boys. Smallest is Sam Belloma. Pittston, Pa, January 1911, Photo by The U.S. National Archives (Cropped)

World Day Against Child Labor, will be observed on 12 June 2014. It is the day to remember the millions of children throughout the world engaged in hard labor. These children sometimes work days spanning from 10 to 15 hours, which takes away their educational opportunities, their rights, and their dignity.

Child labor is defined as work that is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous to children and that interferes with their schooling.

A special category referred to as the Worst Forms of Child Labor include children being separated from their families, being left to fend for themselves on the streets, being exposed to serious hazards, and being sexually exploited. This year, the global theme of the Day Against Child Labor is "Extend social protection, combat child labor."

Families who are poor, have unexpected economic downfall, sudden unemployment, or experience sudden injury of the main breadwinner of the family are more likely to turn to child labor to make ends meet. With better healthcare and unemployment benefits systems and more options and support for poorer families, the number of children in the workforce will decrease.

Progress is being made. International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates from year 2013 say that since year 2000, child laborers have declined be one third -- from 246 million to 168 million. This shows that efforts to reduce child labor are working, but also that there is a long way to go. The NPA vowed to eliminate child labor by 2015 -- at the current rate, this goal will not be met.

The situation in Africa is especially dire. One out of every five children in Africa is a child laborer. According to the ILO, the 58 million statistic has "come down, but only by a small amount."

A problem is availability of statistics -- there is no viable method currently in place to survey and record child labor in Africa. One goal of 2014 Child Labor Day is to better track child labor to study which methods currently in place are producing the most results.

Saving children from hard labor doesn`t just help the one child being saved -- it helps the economy of the entire country. When a child is working, he or she has no time for school. Without an education, the child has little chance of becoming a productive member of society. When hard and unfair labor robs a child of his potential, it is the world that suffers.

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