Youth Engagement with Child Labor

Freechild Project youth protest in Seattle

In communities around the world, including the United States and other industrialized countries, there are countless numbers of young people who work for a living. These young people often work without schools; healthcare is a dream; and sanitary conditions often escape them, too. These same children and youth can overcome their conditions, and change the world. Youth engagement with child labor can be a powerful combination when young people are concentrating on overcoming illegal, forced child labor.

You can’t regulate child labor. You can’t regular slavery. Some things are just wrong. — Michael Moore

Ways Youth Engagement with Child Labor Happens

Youth-Led Activism — When young people take action on child labor they have a variety of actions to use. Picketing, protesting, walk-outs, sit-ins and voter education are steps in the right direction. They can also attend schools, research issues and teach adults about child labor. Youth-led activism can transform very negative situations, push policy change and expand awareness.

Youth-Led Research — Studying the reality of child labor in everyday settings can be a powerful activity for youth. Youth-led research can focus on the service sector, around the house, street labor, farming, making things, and trafficking. By conducting their own studies, developing reports and presenting them to decision-makers and the public, young people can provide substantive evidence, meaningful pictures and factual information.

Youth and Economics — Building the positive power of young people in economies can provide an essential and immediate transition from forced child labor towards an educated, positive future for everyone. Healthy economic development can happen through entrepreneurialism, social entrepreneurship, engaging youth in positive workplace activities, and of course, through education. All of these activities can change the world focusing on ending forced child labor.

child labor

Needs for Youth Engagement with Child Labor

Education — Access to education is the major barrier for children and youth to escape poverty and forced child labor. Education can also be the key to ending generational ignorance about the negativity of forced child labor and alternatives. Young people can build their personal power, increase community responsiveness and empower each other, younger people and adults to make a difference through education, too.

Opportunities — Young people need non-tokenistic, substantial opportunities to challenge child labor, whether they are in it or interested in it. These opportunities should include training and education; be sustainable; and focus on actionable goals with visible, real goals.

Inspiration — Struggling through being forced to work at a young age or being numbed out as mindless consumers can take away the motivation and enthusiasm of young people. Meaningful inspiration to throw off the shackles of oppressive child labor can be essential for addressing the situation.

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Other tools are out there, too – share your thoughts in the comments below! For more information about how The Freechild Project can support youth challenging child labor in your community or organization, contact us.

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