Responding to Children's Work


Evidence from the Young Lives study in Ethiopia, India, Peru and Vietnam

Young Lives summative report, synthesising research from the past 15 years on children's work. The report highlights key principles for child-sensitive programming that will help minimise the risk of burdensome work for children, while maximising children’s wellbeing – always acting in the best interests of children.

  1. Focus on the most harmful work – National and global efforts should aim to eliminate the worst forms of work. Target 8.7 of the Sustainable Development Goals and the ILO Convention 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labour provides a framework for this, protecting children at the greatest risk of harm while recognising that not all work is harmful. Some forms of work can be beneficial to children including teaching them necessary skills for the future.
  2. Child labour legislation needs to be implemented sensitively – Governments should engage with communities and families so that children who work and their families are neither stigmatised nor penalised. Rather than simply imposing solutions, it is important to talk with children and families about the pressures on their lives and evaluate the impacts of potential interventions. 
  3. Address family poverty – Child-sensitive social protection should be expanded to better support children and their families living in poverty and reduce their reliance on children’s work.
  4. Help children who work to access schooling that is fit for purpose – Authorities should support the education of those children who need to work. This means ensuring that education is more beneficial and attractive by improving the quality and flexibility of schooling, as well as making schools safer by addressing corporal punishment and bullying. 
  5. Address care work in the home – Prioritise interventions which aim to reduce pressures associated with care work within households, such as improved access to childcare or  decreased domestic work, so relieving the burden most often experienced by girls.



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Publisher: Young Lives

Publication date: 2018

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