Childhood perspectives of child labour: listening to the voice of children
Sociology University of Essex Colchester, United Kingdom
Childhood perspective of child labour comes from children- centred discourse, which focuses on children?s rights and best interests in order to encourage their own initiatives. According to Liebel (2004) the trend in research on children?s work has changed form an adult-centred perspective to a more child centred approach, which means to give importance to what children think or feel about a range of issues that affect their lives. However, a conflict appears out of this argument. How does childhood approach solve the problem of "children should be allowed to work because they want to work"? Would listening their voice always be the right thing to do? Do they want to work because the work is beneficial for them or because they need the money it brings? Is there any adult influence that shapes the demand for work? If children claim that the work is positive for them, how do we exactly know that it is positive? If the work of the child brings long-term health effects, should they still be allowed to work? Thus, giving the core importance to the voice of children and prioritizing it can mean ignoring these types of questions. However, according to ILO, children are still growing and have special characteristics which needs to be taken into account when defining workplace risks to them so, ?in the case of child labour, the concept of ?work hazard? needs to be child centred focusing not only on factors of immediate jeopardy, but also those that menace child development over the long term.? (Bequele & Myers, 1995: 6) This paper investigates and discusses the conflict appears from prioritizing the voice of children and for and against arguments of childhood perspective of child labour issues.