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DEVELOPMENT REPORT – July 8, 2002: World Day Against Child Labor - 2002-07-05

This is the VOA Special English Development Report.

The United Nations International Labor Organization has launched a yearly event to help end child labor around the world. The first “World Day Against Child Labor” was held on June twelfth. There were special ceremonies, worker training programs, media events and public activities around the world.

The I-L-O organized the day to help spread the message that child labor remains an international problem. Officials plan to hold the event every year to increase support for an international campaign against child labor.

Almost two-hundred-fifty-million children between the ages of five and seventeen are forced to work. That represents one of every six children around the world. Seventy-five percent of them are doing dangerous jobs.

The I-L-O is working with governments to end the worst forms of child labor. These include slavery, the illegal drug trade, the sex trade, armed conflicts and other dangerous jobs. These forms of child labor threaten children’s physical and mental health. The I-L-O says the worst forms of child labor are found everywhere in the world. Both boys and girls are equally at risk. Most child laborers are forced to work in farming areas in parts of Asia and Africa. They spend many hours in extreme heat. They may be affected by dangerous chemicals used to kill insects. And they suffer high rates of injury.

There are many reasons for child labor. They include political conflict, poverty and economic problems. For example, officials say many family businesses use children when they cannot pay adult workers. Illegal child labor continues because of a lack of law enforcement.

The I-L-O says that any effort to end child labor requires direct action at the local, national and international levels. Officials believe it is possible to end the worst forms of child labor in twelve to fifteen years. However, before this can happen, countries must decide to act on this problem. The first step is for governments to accept special programs with time limits to reduce and finally end child labor.

The International Labor Organization has provided countries with training, legislation and ways to enforce laws banning child labor. Officials believe improvements are beginning in some countries.

This VOA Special English Development Report was written by Jill Moss.