Among adults the term â€œchild laborâ€ conjures up a particular image: children chained to looms in dark mills and sweatshops. In reality, children do a variety of work in widely divergent conditions. This work takes place along a continuum, from work that is beneficial, promoting or enhancing a childâ€™s development without interfering with schooling, recreation and rest to work that is simply destructive or exploitative. There are vast areas of activity between these two poles. It is at the most destructive end, where children are used as prostitutes or virtual slaves to repay debts incurred by their parents or grandparents or as workers in particularly hazardous conditions, that efforts are focused to stop such abuse.
The term â€œchild laborâ€ generally refers to any economic activity performed by a person under the age of 15, defined by the International Labor Organization (ILO) of the United Nations. On the beneficial side of the continuum, there is â€œlight workâ€ after school or legitimate apprenticeship opportunities, such as helping out in the family business or on the family farm. At the destructive end is employment that is
Â· Preventing effective school attendance;
Â· Hazardous to the physical and mental health of the child.
Most child labor, 71 per cent, is found in agriculture and fishing. The main tasks in agriculture include working with machinery and agrochemicals, and picking and loading crops. Hazards may include unsafe machinery, hazardous substances (insecticides, herbicides), heavy lifting and extreme temperatures. In deep-sea fishing, children might be diving to depths of up to 60 meters to attach nets to coral reefs, risking exposure to high atmospheric pressure and attacks by carnivorous and poisonous fish. In manufacturing, where 8.3 per cent of child labor is found, items such as glass bangles, matches, fireworks or bricks might be made. Hazards occur in the