The issue of child labor is widely discussed and studied in many disciplines. Some people argue that child labor is always negative and harmful for children, and society should make every effort to eliminate such practices in developing countries. Others state that child labor should be struggled all over the world, including Western countries, where it still exists but is often not noticed. However, some researchers highlight that child labor is not necessarily negative because it can be beneficial, as well. In his article Respite – and Respect, Chris Brazier investigates the complex nature of child labor. In the current essay, the logical appeals used by the author are analyzed and the critique of the author’s appeals is given.
Summary of the Article
In modern society, the image of child labor is usually negative. When they hear these words, most people imagine either child of Victorian Britain, who worked hard after the Industrial Revolution, or children of modern developing countries working in terrible conditions. In rich countries, people often imagine child labor as a kind of slavery, and they are proud of their countries that abolished such practices, making children free to be happy, play, and study. Of course, children still work in Western countries but this work is usually easy and they do it to have some pocket money. Thus, Western people often think that the inhumane practices of child labor have been eliminated in their countries. However, it is not completely right because some children work in unsatisfactory conditions, for example, Hispanic children engage in agricultural work in the United States and South Asian children work in garment sweatshops in Britain (Brazier, 1997).
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One more problem connected with child labor in the developed countries is child prostitution. Although it is illegal, most governments do not struggle with it properly, and it continues to exist, especially in poor regions with high unemployment rates. Moreover, little prostitutes often have work that is more hazardous than routine work in developing countries, and they are less free than children who work in developing countries. Thus, the author states that it is better for Western activists to fight against child labor in their countries, but they usually do not notice problems near them and blame only developing countries in terrible child labor practices (Brazier, 1997).
At the same time, it is wrong that child labor in developing countries is completely hazardous and harmful for children. It can be positive, as well. If children do not work hard or work for several free hours a day, they improve the well-being of their families and learn how to work and perform duties. Thus, they are more adapted to adult life than children from the developed countries are, as they do not work at all. It is not right to struggle with all cases of child labor; only negative ones should be abolished. If children from poor families are prohibited from working at some firms, they are likely to find more hazardous work, and the situation can become even worse (Brazier, 1997).
Finally, the author offers a plan to deal with child labor. It includes banning only the most hazardous labor, guaranteeing flexible and attractive primary education to working kids, registering working children, raising their legal status, giving jobs to parents, and supporting child workers’ organizations (Brazier, 1997).
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In my opinion, Brazier’s discussion in the article is balanced because the author lists and studies both positive and negative consequences of child labor. Thus, it seems that his study is objective, as he studies the problem from different points of view. For example, Brazier provides arguments that the problem of child labor is vital not only in the Third World countries. He proves that it exists in the developed countries, too, in particular, in a form of prostitution. At the same time, he provides arguments that child labor is not only negative for society and kids individually; it can bring them many benefits. Thus, Brazier creates a balance between all positive and all negative effects of child labor.
It can be stated that the author understands well the complex nature of the topic discussed because he provides some evidence and arguments related to the issues that are not widely known by the public. For instance, he provides evidence concerning children working in the developed countries, including immigrant children and children engaged in prostitution, or evidence that child labor in developing countries is not always slavery-like; rather, it can often be positive for society.
In my opinion, Brazier presents a tenable solution to the problem and his approach to the argument related to child labor is realistic and practical. The things the author advises to implement to improve the situation with child labor, including affordable and attractive primary education or better governmental and social control over child labor, can be considered working in practice. Of course, some steps require time, for example, giving jobs to parents of working children, but it is realistic to be done gradually.
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Still, I think that there are some details that Brazier ought to have mentioned, but he did not. The author describes the issue of child labor in the developed countries, including working children of immigrants and children working in prostitution. He also mentions that the working conditions of these children, especially little prostitutes, are often hard, even harder than conditions of many other working kids in developing countries. Nevertheless, the author does not study the important detail, namely how the governments of these countries cope with the problems of illegal child labor or bad working conditions. To overcome these problems, it is important to know how it is addressed currently, but the author does not provide relevant information. Despite the absence of some details, I did not notice any logical fallacies in the article because arguments are structured and represented coherently.
It is worth mentioning that Paula's story is relevant to Brazier’s discussion. This story is related to child prostitution in the developed countries and the failure of governments to fight against this problem. The story represents the real case and the main reasons for the development of child prostitution, which include poverty and unemployment. Thus, this story seems to persuade people in the developed countries to look at the problem of child labor as something close to them, something that happens near them, but not something that exists only in the distant Third World.
Finally, I can state that in the Ten Point Plan, all solutions seem to be realistic and reachable. Of course, some solutions may take some time, for instance, providing education to working children or creating jobs for their parents. Nevertheless, all propositions made by the author can be gradually implemented in real life. I consider Brazier a credible authority to discuss the issue of child labor because his background includes a long experience of writing and journalistic work. Moreover, the author is credible because he provides well-structured and credible arguments on the issue, vital details, and real-life stories related to the child labor issue.
The issue of child labor is important for both developed and developing countries, but society lacks knowledge about this problem, its nature, and background to struggle with it correctly. The main issues related to child labor are that child labor problems are often 'not noticed' in developed countries, child labor is not always something bad and discriminating, and it often can be beneficial for children and families. Only the right understanding of child labor problems, as well as the cooperation of the government, society, and private firms, can help to eliminate gradually the main problems of child labor.