Jamaicans are being encouraged to reject the culture of child labour and, instead, report suspected cases to the relevant authorities.
The call comes from Director of the Child Labour Unit in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Marva Pringle-Ximinnies.
She told JIS News that the issue of child labour in Jamaica, in some cases, has become culturally accepted.
“I think, culturally, we have become accustomed to seeing children in places that they are not supposed to be, especially during school hours, and, for some reason, it is considered to be normal.
We should not buy from them, because we would be supporting child labour. However, that is the dilemma we face, because they are doing it out of need in a lot of the situations, but the best thing to do would be to advise the authorities,” she said.
Mrs. Pringle-Ximinnies was speaking against the backdrop of World Day Against Child Labour (WDACL), which was observed yesterday (June 12), under the theme ‘In Conflicts and Disasters – Protect Children from Child Labour’.
She pointed out that while Jamaica may not be as vulnerable as other countries that are being affected by conflict, the people are not exempt from the effects of natural disasters, which have displaced several families.
She said the displacement of families can lead to child labour, as it “threatens economic security, in terms of providing adequately and being able to work”.
“In such cases, children can be forced to be engaged in activities that would be detrimental and would be considered harmful. And even when things become normal again, because of the additional income that is being supplied, families may take the decision to keep the child in employment and not send them back to school,” the Director said.
She is reminding the public that child labour is a form of child abuse and that persons are to be vigilant in protecting any child who they suspect may be a victim, by calling 1-888-PROTECT and reporting such cases.
According to an International Labour Organization (ILO) study on the long-term impact of child labour, prior involvement in this activity is associated with lower educational attainment and, later in life, with jobs that fail to meet basic decent work criteria.
The report also said that an estimated 168 million persons are involved in child labour, with children aged 5-14 accounting for 120 million of that figure.
Mrs. Pringle-Ximinnies said in Jamaica, it is estimated that more than 16,000 children are involved in child labour, with about 7,500 of that figure considered to be involved in the worst forms of child labour. This includes child trafficking, child prostitution, child pornography and children being engaged in armed conflict.
Article by: Sheri Ann Palmer
Photo from: www.jis.gov.jm