Nearly half of Indians say it’s okay for children to work if they go to school: CRY survey

Child labor may not be easy to eradicate given the worrying perception of Indians on the issue, as revealed by a rapid assessment survey on the social perception of child labor conducted by Indian volunteers Child Rights and You (CRY) on the occasion of the World Day Against Child Labor (June 12).

The survey shows that 45% of the population surveyed (3,770 people over the age of 18) believed that it was normal for children to work to support their families, as long as they continued to go to school . Similarly, 45 percent did not consider taking on the help of children in the family business, livestock raising or agricultural work as “child labour”. Surprisingly, no less than 37% felt that money earned by children was essential to running the household.

However, an 86% majority of people agreed that child labor practices had increased in the country following the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition, 69 percent believe that poverty is the main reason for child labor.

The survey found that 77 percent of respondents grossly underestimate the prevalence of child labor in India. Answer the questions “How many working children are there in the country according to the latest data? Only 23% were close to the correct answer.

According to the latest available census data (2011), the total population of children in India in the age group (5-14) years is 259.6 million. Among them, 10.1 million (3.9% of the total child population) work either as “main worker” or as “marginal worker”.

Some respondents seem to believe that only children under the age of 14 are considered child labourers.

“While many of the responses reflect a good understanding of the problem and its long-term ramifications, a number of the findings are thought-provoking and of real concern,” said Trina Chakrabarti, Director, Volunteer Action, CRY.

She added that the lack of mass awareness, among other things, is one of the main obstacles to solving the problem of child labour. “The objective of the study was to assess and introspect the perception, knowledge and attitude of Indians.”

The rapid assessment further showed that 17 per cent of respondents did not know what to do if and when they spotted a child working as a labourer, although 79 per cent said they would contact the authorities or an NGO if they noticed a working child. “These results are reasonably good indicators of underreporting of child labor cases,” Chakrabarti said.

When asked if they were aware of any law or act in place prohibiting the employment of adolescents (aged 14-18) in hazardous occupations and processes, 33% of respondents answered yes, while 36% said they knew the law but had no idea of ​​the occupations defined as dangerous; 31% said they were unaware of such a law.

The answers to the above questions clearly indicate the widespread confusion and lack of awareness in people’s minds about child labor laws in the country, Chakrabarti pointed out.

“We think it is high time to pause and rethink where the disease lies. To prevent and end child labor, one must first know and understand what child labor is, as well as the corresponding laws in the country. Awareness of the issue needs to be raised and mindsets need to change,” she said.

Some additional discoveries

90% of respondents think a person should only start working as an adult

87% believe that children who go to school have a better future than working children

72% believed that working children were at increased risk of developing diseases; 23% were unsure and probably didn’t know about the various risks involved

74% think working children are more violent

39% thought children working in the entertainment industry should be considered child workers, while 34% felt they shouldn’t; 28% were unsure

90% of respondents know that it is illegal to employ children under the age of 14 in factories and mines

Maria D. Ervin