Child labour is defined as the exploitation of children through any form of work that deprives children of their childhood, interferes with their ability to attend regular school, and is mentally, physically, socially, and morally harmful. According to UNICEF, approximately one-third of the younger population in third world countries does not even complete four years of education, culminating in circumstances of child labour. While many studies investigate the physical impact of child labour, the deep-rooted psychological effects receive far less attention.
The psychological effects of child labour are heightened in third world countries due to the poverty, low literacy rates, and the treatment of children. Dr. Shireen Mazari, the Federal Minister for Human Rights, recognized the psychological dangers of child labour in the statement she released on World Day Against Child Labour.
Children involved in labour in factories or other low-grade tasks do not get the opportunity to develop their psycho-social health or emotional maturity. This results in abnormal psychological growth resulting in mental illnesses. Some examples of the horrible emotional effects of child labour include depression, low confidence, insecurity, shame, and guilt, which heightens the risk of anti-social behaviour. A study comparing psychological and behavioural problems between the working and non-working children portrays that children’s development in the working scenario is severely stunted and they demonstrate anti-social behaviour and deteriorating mental health.
Child trafficking is considered one of the most harmful forms of child labour. Children face the psychological consequences of being separated from their families while experiencing the toll of sexual abuse and emotional trauma. Trafficking has one of the most lasting psychological impacts on the victims, and many suffer from trauma due to it.
The children suffer from constant stress factors associated with labour resulting in the children experiencing a cycle of self-blame and negative views. Being abused physically and psychologically results in deteriorating personal goals and significantly affects relationships with others. Children who are sexually abused tend to experience harsh emotional outcomes, including PTSD, and in extreme cases, suicide.
The prevalence of child labour is a humanitarian concern, and it is our responsibility as citizens to address this. The Ministry of Human Rights has been working actively to draft and approve legislation that protects children from all kinds of abuse, exploitation, and neglect. While the Pakistani government is doing their part in protecting children from the awful consequences of labour, we must assist them. We must report any form of child labour to the Ministry of Human Rights helpline 1099, spread awareness, and help educate our society