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Willow Johnston
April 19, 2010
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Child Labor in China- The Young Eyes of a Tortured Soul

Introduction:

Walking along the sidewalks of Singapore’s Orchard Road, I couldn’t help but look at these two small children—no higher than my thigh—running across and through the squirting fountains of Ion, bare naked, without a care in the world. I was overwhelmed with nostalgia at the sight, and in that instant, memories of my carefree childhood flooded through my head. These happy experiences, however, aren’t necessarily true for everyone else. Beneath the cloak of seeming normality, a dark shadow of childhood is revealed, the troubling issue of childhood labor.
In 1994, 48 Chinese brick kiln workers kidnapped over 100 kids, 40 of which worked for 10 hours earning nothing in return[[1]]. May 12, 2009: an article was released speaking of child labor in the Longfa Shoe Factory in the Guangdong province of China [[2]]. More recently, in February 2010, Apple admitted to use of child labor in some factories within China [[3]]. These are a couple of the many happenings involving underage children working in china.

Preadolescent labor is present globally; however, some more than others, particularly the lands of China. Since Chinas rapid economical and industrial growth during the 1900’s, a higher need for a work force to keep with the pace was required—children fit the bill, regardless of the numerous adults working. Kids under the age of 16, work for 8 to 14 hours a day [[4]], earning less than 30 US cents in total [[5]]. However, regardless of the law established against it, Child labor still exists in China and there’s no doubt that these children are massively effected in numerous ways: socially, psychologically, and economically.

Socially, these kids are impoverished of freedom and education, having further effect on them in the future. Being under the pressure of work life can affect them physiologically as well—especially under the constant abuse the children are faced with. Yet, regardless of all their work, their economical stance is hardly affected, which poses a problem. These three impacts show equally startling implications.



Background:


Throughout our existence, human labor is something that was and is necessary for growth of a given nation. However, since industrialization, the demand for a cheaper work force raised—hence the start of preadolescent recruitment. With China, child labor manifested during the movement of the Great Leap Forward in the mid 1900’s. During this time everyone---including children—were required to work; but, this was only a temporary movement. Since then though, as China slowly modernized, child labor lingered, increasing over time.
According to the People’s Daily Report, these children are either forced or choose willingly to work in industries. Conditions of the workplace may vary from hazardous to livable---that work under: toy manufacturing, production, textiles, construction, food production, and light mechanical work. It is in these particular areas that use of children in these industries are the highest [[6]]. Although modernization seems like the reason of this troubling situation, the actual drive for child labor in China—as well as many other developing countries today—is poverty, and an estimated 300 million classified based on the definition of so [[7]].
Under these conditions, lifestyles for a family can be harsh, which force children to work, helping their struggling family with economical support. The money that is earned does very little to help, yet, is better than complete poverty.
This wasn’t something that went unnoticed by the UN (United Nations) and in 1919; the UN established the ILO or The International Labor Organization which specializes in dealing of global labor problems. This organization stated that of the 250 million children working globally, 61 % of them are in Asia [[8]] and within this percentile, 37 % of so are in China [[9]], continuously rising even today.

Humans Right Research Paper:
Child Labor in China- The Young Eyes of a Tortured Soul


When child labor comes to mind, the idea seems unfathomable, but the horrid truth is that preadolescent labor is existent, even today and with every passing year, it increases. What are even more startling are the certain extremities that have been taken to obtain this particular work force.
In certain parts of China, hundreds of children as young as 8 have been kidnapped right from the streets, sold and forced to work in places with high danger risks—such as Brick kilns. Shockingly enough, an undercover newspaper investigation on Child labor alleged that more than 1000 kidnapped children were being sold “like cabbages”--- youngest kid was seven [[10]]. Some cases in China claim that ”local authorities---including labor inspectors-- have taken children from freshly closed kilns and resold them to other factories” (Howard)[[11]]. Once in these factories, they suffer intense work hours and different kinds of abuse, ranging from physical to verbal---without any remorse, children of all ages are beat up, raped, or killed. Such events and situations have an enormous toll on the children, resulting in lack of psychological development. At their given age, these children experience things that not an everyday child would experience: physical harm, sexual abuse and even death. This lack of development carries on into their future, creating yet another cycle of poverty, lasting through and to their off spring [[12]].
However, being forced to Labor is not always the case. For some of the children, their current lifestyle –poverty--- is unfulfilling, and in order to gain a better life, they have no choice but to work and gain money. This poses a minor economical impact. Regardless of the countless of hours of work these kids put in, barely any income comes out; hence the economical benefit of working is minimal. What more can you expect if you’re earning less than 30 cents for a physically challenging hour of labor. This is because “children are both cheaper and easier to exploit than adults and can often do repetitive work which requires agility and smallness” (Child Labour in China: Causes and Solutions) [[13]]. The end result is a never ending cycle of depts. Children who are given by their family member’s work of their dept price (prices that are near impossible to reach). At times their dept is increased due to mistakes caused by the children. This over all puts them in a sinking sand situation, bringing them down and inevitably making situations worse for them. By working, they place themselves in a never ending cycle that takes up their entire life.
This and forceful work risks their entire social growth. Both reasons end in a constant cycle of up to 14 hours of work a day and minimal wage, costing them the freedom that children need, and the education that they require. Children, who are sent to work, often can’t afford the substantial fees required for an education—“as school fees increase beyond the means of most rural families, educational opportunities for rural children grow increasingly dim”(As Chinas Economy Grows, So does China’s Child Labour Problem)[[14]]. An estimated 10 million children are out of school working, half of which are employees in factories [[15]]. The number is unfathomable. School is and should be a place where children can be exposed to multiple people, and different experiences and information; but, take that away from them, you have left an empty being only filled with memories of harsh beatings and selfish people. These aren’t the eyes of a child, but the eyes of a tortured soul.


Solutions:

There is much done to help resolve this current and troubling issue. Special organizations like the UN are helping promote laws that will counteract against child labor. Other organizations like Free The Children helps children gain better access to education, and provide child laborer rehabilitations, as well as spread awareness too. It’s not easy to start up an organization all on your own, but you can do just as much damage to child labor as any other organization out there—by speaking out. To spread awareness, I am posting a video on YouTube which fights against child labor, using the power of words, images and video interview. However, this isn’t the only thing. Me and my partner plan to compose a song that speaks about child labor. After having it written, I plan to sing my song in the morning show that airs in my school as well as break gigs. Not only will it be live but it will also be posted on YouTube, and Facebook, hopefully spreading the word through music. It’s not much, but just spreading the word makes a difference.

Conclusion


Child labor is defiantly a present issue, having an effect on every children involved in it---psychologically, socially, and economically. However, it is something that requires all of us to solve. The picture of a child is in dire need of repainting. It should depict the typical image of a ordinary kid.
When that picture comes to mind, I can imagine bight smiles, gleaming eyes and joy-filled laughter—carelessly running through the squirting fountain waters of Ion Shopping Mall. But as the veil of an everyday child slowly vanishes, there is nothing but an empty carcass—nothing living, not how it’s suppose to. And as I gaze upon the pictures, staring into the young eyes of these tortured souls, I can’t help but wonder: Will there be an escape? Or will the lines of happiness and misery parallel, never to twine.



Bibliography

“As China’s economy Grows, So does China’s Child Labour problems.” China Labour Bulletin. Web. 27 Mar. 2010.http://www.china-labour.org.hk/en/node/15889

Branigan, Tania. "167 Children Rescued in China Child Labour Crackdown." Guardian.co.uk. 30 Apr. 2008. Web. 28 Mar. 2010. <http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/apr/30/china1>.

"Child Labour in China: Causes and Solutions." China Labour Bulletin. Web. 27 Mar. 2010. <http://www.clb.org.hk/en/node/3304>.

"Child Labour in China." Child Labour. Web. 27 Mar. 2010. <http://www.childlabour.in/child-labour-in-china.htm>.

"Children Pay High Price for Cheap Labour." Www.unicef.org. The Progress of Nations. Web. 27 Mar. 2010. <http://www.unicef.org/pon95/chil0016.html>.

Embar, Wanda. "Sweatshops and Child Labor." Veganpeace. Web. 18 Apr. 2010. <http://www.veganpeace.com/sweatshops/sweatshops_and_child_labor.htm>.
French, Howard W. "Grinding Poverty Defies China's Boom." The New York Times. 13 Jan. 2008. Web. 28 Mar. 2010. <http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/13/world/asia/13iht-poverty.1.9172195.html?_r=2>.

French, Howard W. "Kidnapped Children in China Forced into Slave Labor." The New York Times. Shanghai Travel and Hotels, 16 June 2007. Web. 27 Mar. 2010. <http://articles.sfgate.com/2007-06-16/news/17248562_1_kilns-shanxi-bricks>.

Juma, Mamatjan. "Child Labor Alleged at Nike Factory in China." TeamSweat. 15 May 2009. Web. 18 Apr. 2010. <http://www.teamsweat.org/?p=824>.

Megan, Grau -http://ihscslnews.org/view_article.php?id=57

Moore, Malcom. "Apple Admits Using Child Labor." Telegraph. Google, 27 Feb. 2010. Web. 18 Apr. 2010. <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/apple/7330986/Apple-admits-using-child-labour.html>.
Perez, Emmanuel -http://ihscslnews.org/view_article.php?id=202

"The Story of Child Labor." Child Labor. Web. 18 Apr. 2010. <http://library.thinkquest.org/03oct/01908/800/chinarussia.htm#china>.


Image Bibliography
[[1]] "The Story of Child Labor." Child Labor. Web. 18 Apr. 2010. <http://library.thinkquest.org/03oct/01908/800/chinarussia.htm#china>.
[[2]]Juma, Mamatjan. "Child Labor Alleged at Nike Factory in China." TeamSweat. 15 May 2009. Web. 18 Apr. 2010. <http://www.teamsweat.org/?p=824>.
[[3]] Moore, Malcom. "Apple Admits Using Child Labor." Telegraph. Google, 27 Feb. 2010. Web. 18 Apr. 2010. <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/apple/7330986/Apple-admits-using-child-labour.html>.
[[4]] Megan, Grau -http://ihscslnews.org/view_article.php?id=57
[[5]] Embar, Wanda. "Sweatshops and Child Labor." Veganpeace. Web. 18 Apr. 2010. <http://www.veganpeace.com/sweatshops/sweatshops_and_child_labor.htm>.
[[6]] "Child Labour in China." Child Labour. Web. 27 Mar. 2010. <http://www.childlabour.in/child-labour-in-china.htm>.
[[7]]French, Howard W. "Grinding Poverty Defies China's Boom." The New York Times. 13 Jan. 2008. Web. 28 Mar. 2010. <http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/13/world/asia/13iht-poverty.1.9172195.html?_r=2>.
[[10]]] Branigan, Tania. "167 Children Rescued in China Child Labour Crackdown." Guardian.co.uk. 30 Apr. 2008. Web. 28 Mar. 2010. <http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/apr/30/china1>.
[[11]] French, Howard W. "Kidnapped Children in China Forced into Slave Labor." The New York Times. Shanghai Travel and Hotels, 16 June 2007. Web. 27 Mar. 2010. <http://articles.sfgate.com/2007-06-
16/news/17248562_1_kilns-shanxi-bricks>.
[[12]]"Children Pay High Price for Cheap Labour." Www.unicef.org. The Progress of Nations. Web. 27 Mar. 2010. <http://www.unicef.org/pon95/chil0016.html>.
[[13]]"Child Labour in China: Causes and Solutions." China Labour Bulletin. Web. 27 Mar. 2010. <http://www.clb.org.hk/en/node/3304>.
[[14]] “As China’s economy Grows, So does China’s Child Labour problems.” China Labour Bulletin. Web. 27 Mar. 2010.http://www.china-labour.org.hk/en/node/15889
[[15]]"The Story of Child Labor." Child Labor. Web. 18 Apr. 2010. <http://library.thinkquest.org/03oct/01908/800/chinarussia.htm#china>.







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