In a developing country like the Philippines, the child labor phenomenon remains widespread. Today, we find hundreds of thousands of Filipino children being deprived of the oppurtunity to share in the prospects of development. The door of the opportunity is close on them simply because their “childhood is wasted in premature work (ILD 1994) rather than nurtured in school and at play. And doubtedly, many stand witnesses to this bleak scenario in the workforce. How the lives of this children are apparently placed at risk and how they are clearly cheated of their basic rights and privileges have stimulated a sounding call for an immense public awareness and a prolific action on the child labor issue.
Child labor is a “long standing problem” (ILO 1993: 26), that has been rapidly creaping from the midst of economic, social, and moral crisis. Hence, this papers generally aims to propagate awerness about child labor particularly, the current situation her in 6the Philippines. It has three major objectives. First, it intense to present current facts and data about the child labor condition in the Philippines. Second, it attempts to discuss significant points about the child labor issue. And finally, it aims to waken concern individuals and bring fort a worth while realization, concern, and utmost action and this matter.
A.What is child labor?
Filipinos re smilingly wide aware of the prevalence o child labor here in the Philippines yet, knowingly or unknowingly, many remain inadequately informed and aware of child labor’s real score. The idea of child labor would concretely leads us to a common general notion, that is, children being abuse through forced labor. This is the concept, which inevitably sticks to anyone who hears about the issue. Hence, we must remember that child labor implies a broader concern so purposely, there is much to be adhered about child labor and what it substantially means. To further understand this concern, let us set answers to these questions: When is child labor considered ethical? Illegal?
Child work refers to gainful work of children below15 years of age ( Torres 1995 :2). It means the production of goods and services either on a full-time or part-time basis as performed by children in both the formal and informal sectors. Recent studies in the Philippine noted child participation in the following areas of work: agricultural plantations, small handicraft shops, home-based sub-contracting industries, commercial establishments, household’s street trades, and other small-scale business ventures.
Work among children, is not wrong. Children, as part of the traditional Filipino culture are taught to work at an early age by their families. This true particularly in Philippine agricultural communities were farming is considered a family affair and the farm household is equivalent to one production unit (Torres 1995:2).
Work for children however, becomes unacceptable and objectionable if it falls under any of the following circumstances.
One, if the work is hazardous to the help and morals of the children such as night work, heavy work, or work in the streets which exposes the children to drug abuse and sexual encounters. Two, if the conditions of work are exploitative, as in instances when they require long working hours, provide low pay, and are used as substitute for adult labor. And lastly, if the work prevents children from obtaining education which is their right and privilege in any society (Torres 1995: 2).
Child labor is the illegal employment of children below the age of 15, where they are not directly under the sole responsibility of their parents or illegal guardian or the latter employs other workers, apart from their children, who are not members of their families or their work endangers their life, safety, health, and morals or impairs their normal development including schooling. It also includes the situation of children below the age of 18 who are employed in hazardous conditions. (Representatives 1994:3)
B.What is current child labor situation in the Philippines?
The current child labor situation in the Philippines has recently raced enormous concern. In the 1995 Children Survey conducted by DOLE, results revealed that about three in every twenty children have worked in the past year. Males compromised two-thirds of the working children.
The proportion of working males increases with age. Looking at the sex ratio, the ratio of working male to every one hundred working female increases from 171 for age group 5 to 9 years to 181 for age group 10 to14 years. The absolute increase doubles as the children reach the working age of 15. For age group 15 to17, there are 200 working males for every 100 working females or 2 males for every1 female. (NSO 1995).
Working male children out number females in both urban and rural areas. 2/3 of working children lives in the rural areas. This maybe due to unpaid farm work participated in by family members during planting and /or harvesting seasons.
Based on the1995 children of the Philippines Survey, Only 69.8% reported to have attended school during school years 1994-1995 and 1995 to 1996. They compromised mostly of male working children (62.5%), out numbering the female working children (38.5%).
Working children from the rural areas have higher school attendance (67.3%) tha those from the urban areas (32.7%). Most of these working children reported the same kind of problems encountered in schooling. Ranked, as the first three problems were high cost of school supplies/books/transportation’s, school distance from the residence is too far, and difficulty in catching up with lessons (NSO 1995).
Working children inevitably experience multiple work-related problems.
Only 2 out of 10 children express that they did not encounter any problem in relation to their work. The rest, however, said that they experienced one or more work –related problems. Among these problems experienced by them are coming home exhausted from work, doing heavy physical work, work being stressful, boredom from work and that their work is risky or dangerous. (NSO1995).
Children remained in the workforce for a common significant reason. Survey results showed that majority or 60.1% of the total working children who prefer to remain in the workforce sited improvement in the living conditions of their households as the main reason for working. In the urban areas, only 56.4% cited improvements in living conditions as the main reason while in the rural areas, the proportion reaches 62%. This is following the notion that families in the urban areas have better living conditions than those in the rural areas.
These facts and data justify the growing concern of children labors prevalence to the present Philippine society.
C.Why is child labor very rampant in our Philippine society now a days?
The prevalence of child labor in the Philippines has been attributed to multiple factors. While poverty is apparently the principal factor. The Philippines being a third world country, “Child labor is symptomatic of broader social disorganization resulting from urbanization, industrial development, and economic recession, and the shifting models of production” (Torres 1995: 3). With the advent of economic globalization, awareness of the incidence of child labor in the third world nations is growing rapidly in the industrialize counties as the Philippines. Hence, Many Filipino many children work for the very reason that their families are poor.
Though poverty is the most significant cause of child labor, other factors greatly contribute as well. Cultural values may also drive children in to employment. Children in Filipino farm agricultural households are expected to participate in farm production. Parents also affirmed that teaching children hoe to work is important and they introduce “Work – related task as if it work play activities” (Torres 1995: 3). This scenario is likely triggered by the traditional Filipino values of close families ties and kinship by which each family member is expected to contribute to help keep the family moving and survive. These persuasions make easier for children to accept work as part their routine.
It is also a question of social attitudes. The fact that many children work because there is a little else they can do is an educator of ill social attitudes. Schools are unavailable, in adequate or expensive; the education, which is provide is a related to the world of work. The structural adjustments program, which many third world countries have under taken, has also unfortunately ment as serious cut back in investment in the social sector.
Political condition also interacts with economic factors that make child labor possible. Counter-insurgency campaigns have lead to dislocation of families, and the lost of parents forcing children to work for their own survival. Undoubtedly, many Filipino children are victims of this grim political manipulation.
On the demand side, research show that many children hired because they are more easily exploited than adults are. Employers prefer children because they are docile, In capable of collective bargaining and willing to work to support their family or simply to survive. To have child labor means lower cost because children never complain with very low wages (Weissman 1997: 18).
All these, including other minor factors, play a productive part in rapid increase of child labor cases in the country.
D.What is the risk faced by working children?
Working children inevitably faced intolerance risk. Of millions of children who are working many toil in “Slave-like” (ILO 1993:54) or Hazardous conditions. There are all too many children in the work force that faced physical risk and hazard to their physical, social, intellectual and psychological development. Survey results revealed that many Filipino working children have suffered from work –related injuries such and other various risks are affected by this condition:
The attention span of children is usually limited and their judgement of dangerous situations may not be to develop. As they are not experience enough to cope with job responsibilities, ling hours of work and other job stresses that normal adults can cope within their daily chores, the impact of psychosocial stresses on a child in understandable more pronounced (GUST 1993:78).
In the mere sense, the consequences are intolerably traumatic and devastating. These case of Filipino child:
A Filipino, barely ten years old, lost her sight, when another worker carelessly threw his cigarette but near a mound of gun powder that she was inserting into colorful bits of paper. The gunpowder exploited and with it went her sight. Working in sub-human conditions, these children’s health soon gave way… (Junior citizen Ed. 1996:2).
Many types of work affect the intellectual and psychosocial development of the child.” Work is detrimental to a child if it deprives him of his normal leisure, play and recreation, worse if he is deprived of his basic rights of education, parenting, and protection “ (Gust 1993:78). Such adverse conditions have been observed in bonded labor such as seen in feudalistic agriculture, in the participation of children in Muru-ami fishing and in domestic work.
The projected psychological effects on working children was shown in this specific study:
A study on the psychological profile of ten scavenger children from the Smoky Mountain in the Philippines was conducted in 1992. The results showed low levels of intellectual functioning of the scavengers of different age levels. It also demonstrated and inverse relationship between age and intelligence quotient. That is, the intellectual scores of children decreased as age increased. To a certain point, there can attributed to the children’s preoccupation with survival and lack of learning opportunities. (Gust 1993:81)
Aside from these risks, we cannot do away with the fact that poor working conditions of children often bring along infectious illnesses. Combined with malnutrition, toxic substance used at work affect several organ systems like the brains and nerves sometimes irreversibly. Some researchers make then point that the unhealthy sanitation, over crowding, poor ventilation, and extremes of temperatures in the work environment are aggravated by poor conditions in the living environment therefore, making working children more susceptible to new infectious illnesses and injuries, and other work-related ailments.
Descriptive studies of hazardous and demonstrates the different types of risks:
First, there is the “ hazardous process”. Muro-ami fishing which practice in few fishing towns involves deep-sea diving without the use of protective equipment. This method was reported as a notoriously hazardous process resulting in drowning, deaths and rapture eardrums. Second, there is the exposure of children to adverse physical working environment. Exposure to organic dust is widespread in farms and plantations and tha prevalence of respiratory diseases is high. Children also work in repair shops, woodwork and in construction with constant exposure to dust and fumes.
Third, children are exposed to dangerous substances in both formal and informal sectors. No personal protective equipment’s where given to the children who often handle chemicals with bare hands which was seen among those working in scavenging, in dumpsites, in gold processing, in leather industry, in garage, and in gasoline work. (Gust 1993: 80)
No work is too difficult for these children despite the great risk on their lives. Nevertheless, this makes child labor a visible act of exploitation.
E. How can we eliminate child labor in our Philippine society?
The problem is huge, needless to say, the weapon in store must be equally extensive if not, stronger than the problem itself. All working children are basically at risk: the ultimate object of society should therefore be the elimination of child labor. However, the problem of child labor will not be solving overnight. It is “a large and complex problem” (ILO1994: 4). Some aspects of which are probably not yet capable of solution, for example, until a better knowledge and understanding can be gained, or until further progress has been made in addressing underlying social, cultural or economic factors. Given the multiple, over lapping causes at child labor, no single approach will and the scourge (Weissmen! 997:16).
The resources available for combating child labor are glaringly in adequate when set against the magnitude of the problem. But no progress will be made at all unless start is made somewhere. Ideally, the Philippine government has already recognize the need to establish priorities and the Philippine plan of action for children has set targets for the protection and rehabilitation of abuse and exploited working children and for banning of children in hazardous occupations or situations, with priority being accorded to disadvantaged, depressed, and undeserved families and communities. The Government-UNICEF child labor Plan of Operation also establishes priorities for action. There emphasis action at the local level, without which no strategy to combat child labor will be effective.
And with the formation of the “Sagip Batang Manggagawa”, and Inter-agency Quick Action Program (SBMQAP), the Philippine government has apparently taken the challenge in astounding force. The said program is established to respond to cases of child laborers in extremely object conditions and shall be responsible for the provision of various services in relation to the search and rescue operation.
Elimination of child labor may justify seem impossible. Truly, our chances are slim, but there is hope. With these dynamic forces at hand, we can all look forward to a better and ideal future for the Filipino children.
Child labor is an apparent hindrance to the economic, social, and moral development of the people and this country. This very uncharacteristic scenario in the workplace gradually yet tremendously cripples the country’s economy, destroys the ethical course of society, and deflates the standards of moral values. Nevertheless, “that trend is a human tragedy”(Senser 1997: 18).
A manifestation of the world’s cruelty to the young and the innocent is what child labor is at its least. The children, being “the most vulnerable group in the society, who are unfortunate victims of this inhuman condition have been greatly deprived of the incalculable chances they ought to venture. Sad to say, our very own Philippine society has failed to provide the teeming Filipino children that exceptionally ideal community they all deserve. Yet, what soothes us the least is the fact that the child labor situation in our country has not been left in the rug and forgotten. After all, we dream of nothing less butter to hold strong in our pursuit of saving the Filipino children from falling into this bleak exigency. “ Let not young souls be smothered out before. They do quaint deeds and fully flaunt their price. It is the world’s one crime its babes grow dull” (Linsay1997: 9)
·Gust, E. 1993. Safety and Health Hazards to Working Children, Bangkok: International Labour Office ·International Labour Organization. 1994 . Attacking Child Labour in the Philippines: and Indicative frame work for Philippine-ILO Action Geneva ; International Labour Office ·International Labour Organization 1993. Inter-Regional workshop on Improvement of Effectiveness of Enforcement of Child Labour Legislation. Bangkok International Labour Office. ·Lindsay, Vachel 1997 The Leaden- Eyed , Sunstar, May24, page 9. ·National Statisticas office. Children of the Philippines Manila 1995 ·Senser, Robert A. 997 Global Economy and Child labor. Sunstar, May 26 pages 1 and 8.