1 in 6 children exploited globally

Hard work takes the place of carefree games for 186 million children aged 5-14 around the world. International Labor Organization (ILO) figures show that one in six children is a victim of the worst kind of economic exploitation, while two thirds of all children employed in dangerous jobs are under 15 years of age. Boys slightly outnumber girls in all age groups, according to a recent ILO report, «A Future Without Child Labor.» Boys represent 60 percent of children over 12 who work in hazardous conditions. Greece is not innocent of the taint of child labor. The exact number of children who work in Greece, legally or illegally, is not known, which is one of the greatest obstacles to tackling the problem of child labor. The Youth Secretariat of the General Confederation of Greek Labor (GSEE) estimates that there are no more than 200,000 children in various types of employment. Research by the Pedagogical Institute shows that the official leakage from compulsory education (up to junior high school) approaches 7,500 individuals, 70 percent of whom leave school to work so as to help support their families. Given that there are some 80,000 minors who don’t attending school, and the fact that a significant number of pupils (especially at evening junior high schools) also work, one may conclude that the actual number of minors who work in all kinds of jobs is very different from the statistics we currently possess and are presented with. «There is an urgent need for a better system of researching the phenomenon of child labor in Greece, and for a strict system of monitoring the conditions in which minors work,» Giorgos Moschos, assistant ombudsman, who is in charge of the Children’s Rights Circle, told Kathimerini. The children’s ombudsman is an institution which has spread to many Western European countries in order to protect and promote the rights of children. In Greece the institution has been taken on by an independent authority, the Ombudsman’s office, which set up a Children’s Rights Circle department to protect the rights of people aged under 18. Its role is to intervene in cases when complaints have been made, to research and formulate recommendations to the competent state authorities and, where necessary, to the private individuals concerned. It also collects data, conducts its own investigations and formulates reports to the State for specific measures or to promote legislative amendments. Its emphasis is on communication with children and the provision of information to parents and professionals who work with children. «We know that child labor is closely associated with poverty and migration,» said Moschos, but he added: «The ombudsman’s aim is not to push measures that repress weaker social groups, but to oversee implementation of the State’s obligations to hammer out action plans and take steps that get children away from the worst forms of work and exploitation.»