Social Work Intervention in Child Labour Reduction

There are three schools of thought regarding the concept and interventions on child labour. The first regards education as a fundamental right and believes that every child out of school is a  working child. It regards the State as the agent of society and its primary responsibility to create the necessary infrastructure for facilitating free, compulsory and universal access to primary as well as elementary education. This school of thought does not make a distinction between hazardous and non-hazardous occupations. As a matter of fact, what do hazardous and non-hazardous mean? Many occupations are “non-hazardous” by law, hut in reality highly harmful. The definition of hazardous only reflects physical harm to the child but children who do not have opportunities for self-development are harmed in other ways. This categorization is against the very principles of child rights. The second school of thought appreciates the magnitude of the problem and the constraints of the State in ensuring immediate access to education for all children. The school advocates a gradual, sequential and selective approach by first dealing with children employed in hazardous processes. For providing them with education and training to rehabilitate them, they advocate a step-by-step approach and not a sudden and overnight approach. The third school of thought takes a completely different stand. Its proponents believe that the state has failed in its duties of providing education, incentives to poor parents and in creating an ambient atmosphere for the children to learn. They advocate leaving the choice to children at the same time providing them  with a congenial and flexible environment that provides them with quality education or a comfortable working environment and the freedom to choose.
The approaches range from “Decision with the adults, of immediate withdrawal; to decision with the children, of whether to work or not”. In fact all intervention strategies are somewhere along the line. Is the child being addressed or the cause? Whatever strategy is to be adopted, it should impact at least the most apparent cause of child labour. The strategy must be guided by the factors that lead that particular group of children into the labour force. We also need to remember that in trying to give
back children their childhood, we do not impose adulthood on them.

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Compiler: Fateme Mohammady
Published on the specialized media of Iranians social work

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