Rights and Wrongs of Children's Work

Rights and Wrongs of Children's Work

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Rights and Wrongs of Children's Work, authored by an interdisciplinary team of experts, incorporates recent theoretical advances and experiences to explore the place of labor in children's lives and development.

This groundbreaking book considers international policies governing children's work and the complexity of assessing the various effects of their work. The authors question current child labor policies and interventions, which, even though pursued with the best intentions, too often fail to protect children against harm or promote their access to education and other opportunities for decent futures. They argue for the need to re-think the assumptions that underlie current policies on the basis of empirical evidence, and they recommend new approaches to advance working children's well-being and guarantee their human rights.

Rights and Wrongs of Children's Work condemns the exploitation and abuse of child workers and supports the right of all children to the best quality, free education that society can afford. At the same time, the authors recognize the value, and sometimes the necessity, of work in growing up, and the reality that a "workless" childhood, without responsibilities, is not good preparation for adult life in any environment.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780813548890
Publisher: Rutgers University Press
Publication date: 12/01/2010
Series: Rutgers Series in Childhood Studies
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

MICHAEL F. C. BOURDILLON is a professor emeritus in the department of sociology at the University of Zimbabwe. He has worked with street children in Harare, and with working children regionally and internationally, and is the author and editor of several books including Earning a Life: Working Children in Zimbabwe.

DEBORAH LEVISON, an economist and demographer, is a professor at the University of Minnesota's Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs. Much of her research focuses on third world children's work and schooling in the context of the household.

WILLIAM E. MYERS is retired from the United Nations, where he addressed child work issues with UNICEF and the ILO. He is currently an associate in the department of human and community development at the University of California, Davis.

BEN WHITE is a professor of rural sociology at the Institute of Social Studies, The Hague, and a professor in social sciences at the University of Amsterdam. His books and edited volumes include Child Labour: Policy Options.

Table of Contents

Preface ix

Acknowledgments xvii

List of Figures and Tables xix

List of Acronyms xxi

1 Raising Questions, Questioning the Answers 1

"When I was fired, I cried for two weeks": How Intervention Went Wrong in Morocco's Garment Industry 1

Whose Interests? 6

Ways of Thinking 8

Children's Rights 13

Knowledge, Understanding, and Information 17

2 Work That Children Do 22

What Is Children's Work? 24

What Children Say about Why They Work 35

Concluding Comment 38

3 Children's Work in Historical and Comparative Perspective 40

Child Labor and the Industrial Revolution in Britain around the Nineteenth Century 40

Child Work, Education, and Interventions in Asia and Africa: Examples from Indonesia and Zimbabwe 49

Children, Work, and Education in Communist Revolutions and Post-Communist Transitions 55

International Standards and Trends in Interventions 58

4 Child Work and Poverty: A Tangled Relationship 66

What Is Poverty? 67

Defining and Measuring Labor-Force Work 68

Many Poor Children Do Not Work for Pay 69

Labor Supply and Labor Demand 69

General Patterns 71

Children's Earnings: How Much, and Who Gets Them? 78

Are Children Working Instead of Adults, or Undermining Adult Wages? 80

Conditional Cash Transfers as Compensation for School Enrollment 82

Is Child Work a Cultural Phenomenon Rather Than an Economic Necessity? 83

The Effects of Child Work on Poverty Dynamics: How Learning Matters 84

Does Poverty Cause Child Work? 86

5 Work in Children's Development 88

Framing the Issue 90

The Idea of Human "Development" in Social Science 93

Concluding Observations 105

6 Education, School, and Work 108

"Earn-and-Learn": Tea Estates in Zimbabwe 109

Children's Perceptions 111

The Right to Education 113

School as Work 115

Problems with Schools 116

Can School Mix with Work? 118

Combining Labor-Force Work with School 127

Learning through Work 129

Conclusion 132

7 Children Acting for Themselves 133

Agency of Children 134

Street Children 135

Independent Migration 138

Organizations of Working Children 142

Child Participation in Making Decisions 148

8 Assessing Harm against Benefits 155

Child Domestic Work: Pros and Cons 156

A Continuum of Harm and Benefit 161

Intolerable Forms and Conditions of Work 162

Assessing Hazardous Work 167

Weighing Harm against Benefits 174

A Note on Exploitation 174

What Does This Mean in Practice? 178

9 The Politics of International Intervention 180

The Case of Child Garment Workers in Bangladesh: Tragedy or Scandal? 181

Stitching Footballs in Sialkot 190

What Should Be Learned from These Experiences? 192

Promoting and Protecting the Interests of Children Who Work: A Case in Egypt 194

Concluding Thoughts 200

10 Policies and Interventions: What Should They Achieve, and How? 203

Starting Points 204

Principles 208

Practice 211

Notes 219

References 229

Index 255

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