Child Labor and Adolescent Labor: May They Become a Learning Opportunity?

By Paula Benevene, Michela Cortini and Lisa C. G. Di Lemma.

Published by The International Journal of Pedagogy and Curriculum

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The study performed a text analysis of abstracts of academic journals and papers dealing with children and adolescent work. The aim of our research is to investigate how the international scientific literature is addressing the issue of child labour. Currently literature has focused either on the more extreme, severe and negative aspects of the issue or on the close examination of child labour, considering the conditions in which a young person can perform a job which is compatible with his/her well-being and development. Making this an economic opportunity for him-herself and also a form of socialization. Therefore, the analysis of the academic literature will concentrate on tackling the following research question: Current researches on child labor have as their objectives problematic situations and contexts, characterized by poverty, risk of social exclusion, neglect or lack of care of the young worker. What is the picture emerging from the work done by a young person? We took into consideration abstracts of papers published between January 2000- January 2011 (inclusive), as a result of the ILO approval of the International Convention 182, in July 1999. The Convention concerned the prohibition of the worst forms of child work and an immediate action for the elimination of these. The approval of this measure developed interest in the issue of child work in different fields, such as the mass media, Governments and Non-Governmental Organizations and also in the academic world. Although our main focus was on the psychological literature, we also included CSA Worldwide Political Science, ERIC, CSA Social Services, and CSA Sociological Abstracts. Abstracts of original papers were therefore searched, containing the following keywords in the title, abstract or the descriptions:“child/children work”, “child/children labour”, “adolescent/s work”,“adolescents’ labour”. This search identified 301 papers whose abstract were submitted to text analysis. Content and discourse analysis were performed and contents were analysed by the aid of the software T-Lab 5.5. Results show that the international scientific literature has focused on the most extreme, serious and damaging situations of the phenomenon, while studies on the young generation who work in conditions which comply with the criteria set by international instruments for the protection of children work have not been well developed yet.

Keywords: Children, Labour, Work, Learning Opportunity

The International Journal of Pedagogy and Curriculum, Volume 22, Issue 2, June 2015, pp.15-24. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 443.121KB).

Dr. Paula Benevene

Assistant Professor, University LUMSA of Rome, Rome, Italy

Prof. Michela Cortini

Assistant Professor, University G. d’Annunzio of Chieti - Pescara, Chieti, Italy

Lisa C. G. Di Lemma

Assistant researcher, Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK