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Who Made Your Shirt? Child Labor in China

Carson DeBerry

Singapore American School

Child labor in China is a problem that has existed for many years but it still has not been acted on completely. There are over 10 million children working in China and there could be more.1 The ages can range from 5 to 14 years of age. One reason they are taking part in the work force at such a young age is because they cannot afford school cost. Some social implications are family’s financial standing, the Chinese cultural beliefs, and the lack of government actions.

Child labor has been an issue for years. Going back before major companies were out sourcing work to other countries, which is around the 18602. Labor organizations have been formed in China but they are always stopped. For example members from the International Labor Organization have been detained in prison for, as China puts it, endangering state security.3 As there is still effort to end child labor China’s government is a constant problem. China does not allow any non-governmental organization to access China.4 Some causes of child labor have been the cost to have child work. To hire a child their pay does not have to be very large because they can’t really argue with you. Schooling cost and living cost have been issues as well. People that can’t afford to feed their children send them to work so they can help contribute to the family’s income to have enough money to buy food. There are many companies to be blamed for hiring children to make their products. You could also blame the government not taking action and enforcing rules or laws that restrict hiring labor. Parents of the children are also ones to blame. These are some of the issues that are going to be discussed.

One of the main issues that make children become part of the working society is money, the amount families have and if they want more. Families that do not have enough money to send their children to school usually send them out to get a job to get more money for their family and save for an education.5 Parents would rather have their children work instead of paying for school. The family then decides since the child is not going to school they shouldn’t just be staying at home. So they send them off to get a job in a factory or sweatshop to make money. A solution that sounds easy is to have organizations that will fund for children’s education so they don’t have to work. It would relieve the parents of that payment, and it will give them hope that their child one day will become better off then they are. By stopping the children from working by allowing them to go to school will help end child labor because if there are no children looking for jobs then factories would have to hire adults.

Cultural Beliefs
A problem that is forming the current society of China is how it is acceptable to send your children to work in factories. Looking at the Chinese and the way their society is set up you can see why they would send their children to work. What is interesting as this has been happening for many of years people are still turning heads, even in their own country. Chinese people are fine having a child from ages 5 to 14 working in a factory. 6 We are living in a society that is not noticing what is going on around us. People are very focused on themselves as well as what they are getting, and never where it really comes from. Coming back to China they are living in a society that is excepting of classes. People know that the lower class is doing most of the manual labor, and the children are working hard making shoes and shirts and many other products. The ability for people turn their head act like this is an acceptable way for children treated has become a part of their culture. They have no problem with children working. They some how need to be taught what is right and what is wrong. If we do the same organization, which put the kids in school, this could end a huge gap in social classes. It would take time but it this type of organization could be very helpful.

Government Involvement
The government knows of the issues but lacks the follow through. From information they have, it tells you that they know that they have a problem but they don’t know what to do. In the work force in China is made up of about 20% of Children ages ranging from 5-15.7 With information like this it would make you stop and think that something may be wrong. For years there has been official regulation banning the employment of minors, those under the age of 16.8 Even though they have placed this rule they still have not followed through or enforced. So with this lack of control, kids go searching for jobs and then get hired because factories and workshops like the cheap controllable labor. If the government could change the rules or enforce them of hiring minors, take some action that would help. Since they are growing, not only by population, but as a major part of the worlds economy it is of great importance that they would be able to show off their country is great without having child labors. It is in their best interest to end child labor for their country’s image.

A current solution is from the International Labor Organization (ILO). This is a UN based organization that makes sure the every workspace is equal and fair to the people working there. Another solution that I have is start up and organization to raise money to pay for children to go to school. By having the children go to school then they won’t have the opportunity to go work in factories. It sounds simple but it will take some work to raise that kind of money. Just need to find the cost of the school and take it one town at a time.

When looking at product find out where it has come from you may find that it was made in china or another country. If that is so maybe you can do something where every purchase you make 10 dollar or less donation to an organization to pay for a child’s school. So coming back to what child labor is how to understand how and what affects it. Child labor is a horror to all children and families and some how needs to be stoped.

1 "The Story of Child Labor." Blood, Sweat, and Tears. 25 Aug 2009 <http://library.thinkquest.org/03oct/01908/800/chinarussia.htm#china>.
2 Dong, Stella. Shanghai : the rise and fall of a decadent city. New York: William Morrow, 2000.
3 "China:Workers' Rights Lag Behind U.N. Standards." Human Rights Watch . Copyright 2006. Apr. 2006 <http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2001/02/27/china-workers-rights-lag-behind-un-standards>.
4 Grau Megan, . "Child Slave Labor in China." ihs Child Slave Labor (2005): n. pag. Web. 14 Sep 2009. <http://ihscslnews.org/view_article.php?id=57>.
5 Anup Shah, . "Global Issues." Child Labor. 01 Jan 2001. Gobal Issues, Web. 1 Oct 2009.
6 Chao Julie, . "In China, Child Labor Is illegal, but kids sell flowers on street." Austin American-Statesman 2001. n. pag. Database. 15 Sep 2009. History Resource Center. Gale. 2001. Retrieved at Singapore American School. <http://galenet.galegroup.com/servlet/History/hits?docNum=CJ80343305&tab=64&locID=sas&origSearch=true&hdb=ALL&t=RK&s=1&r=d&items=0&secondary=true&o=&sortOrder=&n=10&l=dN&sgPhrase=false&c=4&tabMap=64&bucket=nws&SU=china+child+labor>.
7 Barboza David, . "China Abusive Child Lbaor Ring Is Exposed." New York Times (2008): n. pag. Web. 14 Sep 2009. <http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/01/world/asia/01china.html>.
8 China. China Labor Bulletin. As China's Economy Grows, So does China's Child Labour Problem. Hong Kong: 2005. Web. <http://www.china-labour.org.hk/en/node/15889>.

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