Target: Evo Morales, President of Bolivia
Goal: Urge government to abolish child labor bill that threatens the mental development and physical health of its young citizens
In developing countries, nearly one in four children ages five to 14 are engaged in child labor that is considered detrimental to their health and mental development. According to UNICEF, an estimated 150 million children worldwide work in hazardous conditions, for pennies a day, in an effort to help their impoverished families afford basic necessities. Although child labor has decreased dramatically in the past decade, especially since the introduction of global education reform, poverty still remains a constant setback in the fight to abolish child labor practices. Much to the surprise of activists, Bolivia has introduced a child labor bill, intended to alleviate the country’s dire economic situation, that gives children as young as 10 the legal right to work.
Passed by the Bolivian Congress, the misguided bill, if signed into law by the country’s president, would make Bolivia the only country in the world with a legal employment age so low. Supporters of the controversial bill have argued that it is an “economic necessity” for children in Bolivia to work and are convinced that by lowering the legal working age, the country’s extreme poverty problems will be addressed. However, child labor is not the solution to poverty; instead, it perpetuates it. Research has shown that children who work are more likely to miss school and end up working at low-wage jobs, possibly, for the rest of their lives.
Further, children that are forced to work endure hardships like familial pressure, abuse from employers (both physical, verbal and mental), and extreme work hours, with some children working as much as 80 hours a week for very little pay. What may seem like a brilliant, short-term solution to economic hardship, is actually the root cause of poverty. People who begin working as children are less educated and earn much less as adults. They are then more likely to send their own children to work at young ages, perpetuating the cycle of poverty for generations.
Bolivia’s questionable actions are out of sync with the rest of the world, as other countries work tirelessly to end child labor and abolish poverty by expanding educational opportunities, creating beneficial programs for poor families, and enforcing child labor laws. Sign the petition to tell President Evo Morales to abolish the misguided bill and support more sensible ways of addressing poverty.
Dear President Morales,
The child labor bill passed by the Bolivian Congress is not only misguided, but disheartening, as millions of children worldwide suffer to help their families afford basic necessities. Child labor may seem like a beneficial solution to your country’s economic distress, but the long-term effects can be felt for generations. Children that are forced to work not only give up their childhoods, but they also give up their education. As a result, they grow up to be undereducated adults that are forced to work low-paying jobs. They are also more likely to send their own children out into the workforce before their time, perpetuating the poverty cycle.
Child labor, which has been abolished in many other countries, does more harm than good. No child should be forced to endure physical, mental and verbal abuse at the hands of employers or work inflated hours for little pay. An education is the only solution to poverty. By robbing countless children of their right to learn you perpetuate Bolivia’s dire economic situation and hinder the development of your country’s people. I urge you to reconsider this misguided bill and abolish it immediately. Child rights are human rights, too.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Jane Ginn via Flickr