Reality of child labour

13th December 1996 at 00:00
A new report on child labour throughout the world shows that up to 26 per cent of 11-year olds in Britain are working.

In America, a three-day government swoop in 1990 found over 11,000 children working illegally.

Published on Wednesday, the report from UNICEF explodes many comfortable myths about child exploitation, such as the idea that it only happens in faraway, undeveloped countries. The 1990 US survey found Mexican-American children working on farms in New York State in fields still wet with pesticides. Over a third of these child workers had actually been sprayed with the poisons. Ten-year-old Maria, says the report, spends her days selling chewing gum on the streets of Lima, but children of the same age can be seen selling cigarettes in Naples at midnight.

However, the link with extreme poverty ensures that the majority of all child labourers live in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

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