Child Labor/Trafficking and their Effects on Nation Building

Child Labor is the exploitative use of children by adults for economic gains or other selfish motives, while child trafficking is the act of moving children from their familiar localities to a distant setting either within the country or outside, all for ulterior motives. In both cases, the child suffers either physically, morally or mentally. Many a time, adults approach unsuspecting poor rural parents to willingly hand their children to them as relatives to be taken to larger towns or abroad with a promise for affordable and better education.
These promise-providers exploit the children in various ways including forcing them into early marriages, engaging them in hard labor or using them as sex slaves. Many of them, when misused, are thrown out into the streets where they become commercial sex workers in the case of the girls, or for the boys to become thieves or even drug addicts.
These modern forms of slavery have become a menace in our society and the third world generally, leaving the future gloomy for these children who happen to be our future leaders. Often times, these innocent children languish and perish in the destinations they find themselves thus taking away from them the chance for the fulfillment of their potential as contributors to ‘Nation Building’.
Additionally, these child-users care not if their victims after being dumped become menaces to the societies they find themselves in by transforming into common street criminals.
It is quite certain that ignorance and poverty on the part of parents as well as a desire to see their children live in luxury outside their localities, are the causes of these disgraceful and dehumanizing acts. These parents who receive such offers for their children to be taken away consider it as ‘Kind gestures’ with the hope that these children will spring up to be saviors and elevators of their families tomorrow.
What has heightened these phenomena in Liberia particularly over the years is the effect of the fourteen (14) years long civil conflict that completely devastated the economic-base of our rural communities, which in turn made them impoverished. This situation was largely responsible for their gullibility.
In most cases, perpetrators think securing children from rural communities are the safest means of achieving their goals. This is more so with children left alone, abandoned and neglected probably because their parents were not able to escape with them or because the parents were killed during the war and they are therefore being cared for by other relatives. These individuals, who come to their aid with the pretext of caring for them, end up using them in the wrong manner. The act is now becoming so rampart that only effective sensitization put in place, including the recent applaudable passage of the Children’s Act in 2011 by the Liberian Senate, can minimize and subsequently eradicate these practices.
With the cooperation of world bodies (we are now living in a global village!), these happenings are now globally being damned as illegal and thus a push for their total abolition is picking steam world wide, as they are now recognized as new forms of slave trading, 200 years after abolition of slavery.
As a young activist, these issues are very close to my heart, since I consider these children turned laborers as my partners in nation building and I also consider them to be subsequent future leaders of this great nation of ours. I therefore call on all stakeholders including, Save the Children Liberia, UNICEF, Ministry of Gender and Development, Plan Liberia etc, to launch a massive campaign for the eradication of Child Labor/Trafficking in Liberia and the world as a whole.

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