Monday, November 12, 2012

Child Labor In Brazil

Child labor, in North America and Western Europe, is largely a thing of the past.

But it is alive and flourishing in many other places around the world.

Here in Brazil there is legislation against it.

Kids aren't supposed to enter the labor force until they’re eighteen years old.

But, according to the most recent statistics, more than one million of them between the ages of ten and fourteen already have.

In recent years, the federal government has been doing its level best to crack down. But it’s difficult to get the laws to “stick” in the more poverty-stricken regions of Brazil’s north and northeast.

In the semi-arid regions of Bahia, for example, more than 800,000 kids, some under the age of five, are to be found working on small landholdings.

The presence of federal agents, in such regions, is thin on the ground.

Schools are few and far-between.

Transportation is lacking.

But the problem is also a cultural one: child labor is encouraged by parents, and supported by the community.

Complaints to the authorities are rare. And, when they come, the people who made them are often ostracized by their neighbors.

More monitoring is needed, more subsidies to the poor, more education directed toward the caregivers of the exploited children.

Things are changing. But all too slowly.

Thereby condemning at least another generation of kids to a life in which their lack-of-education is bound to result in the perpetuation of grinding poverty.

Visiting some of these regions, seeing some of these kids, is enough to make a grown man cry.

And I have.

Leighton - Monday


  1. Glad you posted this, Leighton. It's one of the world's dirty little secrets few like to talk about. On the human trafficking side of this (in the labor and sex trades) 12.3 million souls are estimated as victims of which less than 50,000 are identified.

  2. Dreadful! I live in a Medium Risk country that in the interminable election process that just ended, politicians of ALL stripes insisted on calling it the greatest country in the world. It makes me sick!

  3. By the way, there is a documentary about child laborers in the mines in Potosi. It is heartbreaking, but very worth seeing: The Devil's Miner.

  4. It feels so hopeless. The perpetuation of poverty is the most depressing part of this. It feels as f what they are at 16 is what they'll be at 30, and 60. If they live so long.

  5. It is painful to see children working like this. At this age, they should be going to schools.

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