Child labor in South America

As it is believed that today’s children are the future of the nation. However, the menace of child labor weakens the roots of the future generation. It is the curse that snatches the childhood from children just to make their contribution in economic supplementation to their families. They give off their learning time to the untired work. They give up their education, playing with toys, and even tender love and care from their parents, just to make money for their families. They even do not exhibit their right over their earnings with their little hands.

This curse of child labor mostly finds in developing parts of the world. South America is the most affected part of the world in terms of child labor. Report founded by International Labor Organization ILO at Car for the Cartagena Meeting that 15 million children work in Latin America, with approximately half of these child workers between the ages of six and 14 years old. However, this report estimated for the child laborers who work in the formal workforce while children also work in the informal workforce which is not registered with the government.

Thus, the figure becomes more alarming these translated into actual facts that say in South America one in every five children is a worker. Most of them work in places of high risk with precarious conditions and mostly work is unpaid which is constituted as a new form of child slave is emerging. Thus, child labor has now become the norm of many major countries of South America.

Child Labor in different sectors of South America

Child labor in the agriculture sector:

The bulk of children is working in the agriculture sector in South America. Most of them work in their family farms and others forcibly under landlords who do not want children to get an education to get awareness about their slavery. According to study children under the age of 15 makeup 30 percent working in agricultural lands. The condition is harsher in Mayan communities, where children work from dawn to dust arduously in fields with minimum wages.

child labor

 Industrial-based child labor:

In the industrial sector, the condition is even more alarming than in the agriculture sector. In industries, many kinds of holders present who control the labor. Most of the holders treat children unjustly and force more work lord. As children are weak, they cannot resist, therefore they mostly get exploited and abused by brutish people. Mostly condition of young girls is awful in this sector, as they sexually harassed and forcibly labor for 12 to 18 hours. According to one report, about 50 percent of labor jobs are performed by children in Honduras. 

child labor

Informal sectors:

This is the most heinous sector and encompasses most of the work that children do informal sectors. Children, working in these sectors are mostly found in streets tied to their siblings in their backs and begging with helpless faces. In the streets of Quito and Ecuador, people find it difficult to pass, as children make up 25 percent of the workforce. Besides, children also work in households mostly girls’ ratio is higher in household work. Therefore, they were subjected to harassment and harsh treatment for minor errors.

child labor

A case study of Mexico:

The population of Mexico is 122 million, where more than 2.5 children working as child labor with a population of 8.4 percent of children.  Joaquín Cortez, author of the study “Modern Child Slavery: Cases of Child Labor Exploitation in the Maquiladoras.” Conducted this study in the states of Colima, Guerrero, and Puebla. Where children “work in extremely precarious conditions, in addition to working more than 48 hours a week, receiving wages of between 29 and 40 dollars per week. To withstand the workloads, they often inhale drugs like marijuana or crack,” 

The situation in Brazil:

A study conducted in Brazil by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), published in 2017, found that of the 1.8 million children between the ages of 5 and 17 who work, 54.4 percent do so illegally.

Causes of child labor

Poor public education system:

Those parents who are uneducated most likely exempt their children from getting an education. These parents when looking at the poor condition of the education system they find it less benefitting their children and ultimately to them than their working in fields and industries. It develops the misconception that work brings experience to children that are equal to education. In most places, children replaced their parents’ working areas, when their parents accidentally died or get old. Families in Peru see school quality as the biggest factor for child participation in the workforce.

Cultural norms on the prevalence of child labor:

The other factor that gives rise to this menace is cultural thinking about child labor. Mostly culture becomes a cause, as it motivates more people to practice the same. According to a World Bank report, mostly indigenous people are tilted towards this practice as they consider manual labor is an important part of the education process. In Latin American countries with large indigenous populations, such as Bolivia, Peru, Guatemala, and Ecuador, children make up a large percentage of the workforce.

Impacts of child labor

Increase in poverty:

Child labor gives rise to poverty as a chain of manual labor keeps on going with children replacing their parent workplace. Lack of awareness and uncertainty of future jobs parents prefer their children to work from an early age. Thus, child labor makes a full stop at the progress of family or in movement from bottom to up. As a result, the country would face the same lack of progress in the future owing to the bulk of the uneducated population of children dwindling in manual labor.

Impact GDP ratio of the country:

Child labor also took hold of economic progress as unskilled labor cannot give innovative ideas to the industrial and other economic sector of the country. As a result of which the GDP of the country keeps on dwindling. The ILO projects that the elimination of child labor in South America would allow the state to save over $235 billion due to increased access to education and health care for children.


Child labor is the curse that leads society to a dark future. This curse develops out of poverty and lack of awareness. It not only impacts the future of children but also the future of the country as it eats the progress of the society like powderpost beetles and leaves the country hollow inside. Thus, the government should take measures that could end this menace.

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