THE PROBLEM OF CHILD LABOUR The nature and extent of child labour in all regions of the world, the discussion of what constitutes child labour is complicated by the perceptions and cultural traditions of different countries about what is appropriate work for children to carry out as part of becoming productive members of families and societies. Focus in the argument on certain traditional practices that might be appropriate for children to engage in,can give legitimacy to the exploitation of children by not distinguishing between normal family obligations and appropriate training on the one hand and work which gives rise to exploitation and abuse on the other.Of course, children work. But from what age and doing what? These are the issues that legal provisions on child labour address. Looking at what constitutes child labour in international standards clarifies that some work by children is allowed. Work which subjects children to exploitation and abuse is prohibited. This prohibited work is child labour. In Ghana for instance, if a child is found selling sachet water or found breaking stones (for building) at school hours, that kind of labour is considered a child labour.The general criteria for determining child labour are the age of the child and the nature of the work. An overriding principle is that work should not interfere with the education and the fullest mental and physical development of the child. Children are, among other things, characterized by their age. As will be seen below, international labour standards establish various ages for differentkinds of work. Age is a crucial factor because up to a certain age the primary occupation of children should be obtaining an education and engaging in other activities which are appropriate for their healthy development, including play.
In addition, children are affected by work differently and more intensely than adults - and the younger the child the greater the vulnerability. The hazardous nature of work and the conditions under which work is carried out are also important criteria.An emphasis on traditional practices over the potential hazards of work for children canresult in ignoring or not fully appreciating the extent of the child labour problem. It is thus important that societies and families become educated on the dangers of child work and recognize that what happens within the family context and training traditions cannot be totally excluded from the scope of legal instruments on child labour. In fact, some cultural traditions and practices are exploitative, rather than protective, of children. The worldwide movement toward recognizing the rights of children, as embodied in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, challenges all cultures to reevaluate their laws and practices toward children in view of the rightsexpressed therein. These include the right to be free from exploitative and hazardous work and conditions.Finally, it cannot be said that there are regional definitions of child labour. Internationalinstruments, while not proffering a fixed definition, do provide the basic minimum ages and conditions for work. These minimums are to be applied throughout the world.that is my view