When we look into why child labour happens we can look into a few areas such as the employers, the family, and also the broader community context. The employers and merchants want children labourers because they are cheap to keep and they do not have to feed them or pay them a fair wage. They also have very tiny hands so they can do some of the repetitive tasks that require precession and dexterity which an adult would have a harder time doing (D’Adamo, 2003). We can also look at the family situation and see that most of the time the family is struggling and has to go in debt for a variety of reasons such as needing medicine for a sick family member or for food. The family then is forced to pay off their debt so the children are often sent away to work it off or to make more money (D’Adamo, 2003; Kielburger, 2008). When children are in the hands of their masters they sometimes believe that they are there to learn skills that will help them in the future, or that they are helping their family and will return home some day. However there is always extreme interference with adult agendas, as the masters make the daily work expectations so outrageous that their work is often deemed unacceptable or they are unable to make the quota consequently meaning they are not paid for that day. These children have no power making them an easy target to exploit and take advantage of so this is how the cycle continues and the families remain extremely poor. Sometimes children will also inherit their parents’ debt that they themselves were unable to repay (D’Adamo, 2003).
In many instances child labourers are also orphans who do not have a home to return to which is one reason why some of the children stay and do not try to leave or escape their work. It is reported that there is about 145 million children in the world who have lost one or both of their parents (UNICEF, 2009). These children are often scared and alone and could end up simply dying on the streets so they have no choice but to stay with their masters (D’Adamo, 2003). When we look into greater community issues we can see that there is an immense influence of poverty along with a lack of adequate education and access to resources. Extreme poverty is a very large factor in child labour as it relates to people having to resort to desperate measures to be able to survive, with extreme poverty rising so does the risk for infection and diseases such as HIV AIDS which is also prevalent in some developing countries (Kielburger, 2008; UNICEF, 2009). With all these factors children are afraid to report the abuse and exploitation that they are enduring as they have nowhere to go and no one to talk to even if they do want to escape or leave. These Children are not legitimately recognized as citizens in society and are not considered an important aspect; this is also evident as many children are not even registered at birth (UNICEF, 2009). Not registering a child at birth is one of the most critical ways of denying a child the ability to be a citizen with rights, making it easier to traffic them wherever they want. This is also reflected in the estimate that about 1.2 million children were trafficked around the world every year before 2000 (UNICEF, 2009).
For these children who are forced into labour, it is almost impossible for them to get help and get well, for if they escape they could end up dying on the streets, or just get caught and taken back to where they work then punished (Kielburger, 2008). This is due to a severe lack in resources for these children and a lack in knowledge of children’s rights (and even basic human rights) by adults and children (Twum-Danso, 2008). In addition it is not always a dominant discourse in some developing countries to believe that child labour is wrong, this only adds to the fact that children have no one to help them if they do happen to reach out and try to be empowered (D’Adamo, 2003; Kielburger, 2008). In order for children everywhere to get the chance to an equal quality of life the UNCRC needs to be culturally relative to address and respond to the specific root issues embedded in each country. This would help distinguish between where children consent to safe work voluntarily and are recognized by a fair wage, with on the other hand children who are modern day slaves, chained to their work stations, malnourished and mistreated. However this is difficult as the convention also needs to remain broad as to incorporate as much universality as it can to be applicable around the globe to all societies constructions of the child (Twum-Danso, 2008).