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The Burden of Growing Up

Most things start as soon as you become a teenager.
In my case as well.
My father needed my help because he wanted to reconstruct our backyard. I helped him. It was the first time I actually worked. Ever since that day I worked in my father’s backyard. I helped him harvest the apples, I cut trees and I had to mow the lawn. Of course, I did not always work. Usually only on weekends. I went to school. I had time to play with my friends.

In short, I was a happy teenager.
All over the world there are children and teenager like me. There are families like mine. Families that depend on the help of their children. There are families that need their children to do grown- ups’ jobs in order to survive. The work I had to do when I was younger is only a profane example. I know that.

Child labor is a topic way more serious than the personal example I provided in the beginning.
In our western society it often has a negative connotation but a lot of goods we use everyday are produced by child laborers. The International Labor Organization estimates that approximately 215 million children around the world work as child laborers. Bananas harvested in Peru, electronics assembled in China or cotton from Egypt, many of these products are produced or harvested by children.

We should take this into account when we purchase goods. The List of Goods produced by Child or Forced Labor ought guide our purchasing decision.
We do not want children to work the entire day. To get a very low wage. We want them to study and to do well in school in order to have a future.

 What we usually do not take into account is that even in countries like the USA the economy depends on child labor. The movie “The Harvest” talks about this topic and shows that it is extremely difficult to completely ban child labor by law. It would financially ruin entire families. It would let prices increase, and who of us is willing to pay more for their food?

An even more drastic example is child labor in developing countries. Kids have to sell chewing gum in the streets or clean shoes in order to be able to eat.
I want you to imagine yourself as a twelve year old kid, your parents do not have enough money to satisfy the basic needs of your family. So, your income counts. Either you survive or you go to school.

I was always strongly opposed to child labor.
After having read interesting articles about this topic I now ask myself: “Do we actually improve the situation of child laborers by simply not purchasing products produced by them?”
My answer is no.

 I could have never imagined myself saying this but I realized that a solution to this problem is not that simple. What do poor kids live off if it is prohibited for them to generate an income? Is one possible consequence that kids start to commit crimes rather than work in regular jobs?

 Everyone wants to have a better future, therefor we study at the university. These kids want to have a better future as well but the future starts now… If you starve now you will not have any future at all.

Leave a comment


  1. liliscarlet

     /  November 23, 2011

    I really enjoyed reading your blog post, as it contained many turning points I did not expect.

    Giving an example of your own working experience at the beginning was a good introduction to the topic child labour. Even though you gave a brief overview over the topic in giving actual numbers and naming some places, where child labour is still a serious problem, you didn’t go too much into detail with that and instead focussed on a different aspect.

    I always had a negative image of child labour, but never before thought about the consequences for the child laborers and their families in case of an abolishment of child labour, so your blog post really made me question my mindset on that topic.

    As well you chose an appropriate picture that fits your topic perfectly and structured your post into smaller paragraphs, which makes it much easier to read. I am very interested to read more!

  2. hi martin 🙂
    your post was just great! i loved the way you wrote, how you introduced the reader with a personal story and began then to dig into that topic. the short sentences at the very beginning caught the readers attention and made me keep reading.
    good job 🙂

  3. Saskia R.

     /  November 28, 2011

    Hey Martin,
    I also very much enjoyed reading your post. It is quite an interesting topic albeit being sad at the same time. I think you chose a good introduction and wrote your post in a way that was easy to follow.
    What really caught my attention was when you mentioned that there is also still child labor in the US. I would really like to know more about that, since I have never heard about that before.
    All in all a very nice post.

  4. Lucas

     /  November 30, 2011

    To me your article was interesting even though I did not enjoy reading it. I mean the western society is usually rarely pulling down its blinders and if it does the result is shocking. In your article you were able to take a glimpse at what’s happening without seeing the brutal reality. If you want to read more you gave some links and also the the article itself was pretty innervating to read more.

    • Lucas

       /  November 30, 2011

      and you didn’t pillory the western society like other “enlighteners” do. just a reminding post that not everyone is having the opportunities we have.

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