Prevention, removal and rehabilitation
If the problem of child labour is to be resolved, governments must not limit their interventions - as most of them have done so far - to the enactment of protective legislation and timid monitoring of its enforcement. What is required is a well-planned and well-integrated series of complementary measures which will be short-term, medium-term or long-term in nature, depending on the urgency and magnitude of the problem in each country.
The complex problem of child labour can only be solved through concerted action in society aimed at:
Prevention is the most cost-effective measure in the fight against child labour. The results of preventive measures are in many cases not immediately visible, making them less attractive in political terms. Moreover, to be more than superficial they should deal with the root causes of the problem. This may require a scrutiny of the social fabric of society and an exposure of inequalities and vested interests.
In addition, removal and rehabilitation measures are needed, aimed at withdrawing the greatest possible number of children from hazardous work situations, and providing them and their families with viable alternatives. Given that many countries do not have the infrastructure and resources to immediately undertake large-scale rescue and rehabilitation programmes for all child labourers and to enhance income generation for parents, the priorities should be the immediate abolition of the worst forms of child labour and a step-by-step time-bound national programme of action to eliminate all child labour.
As a first step, it may be necessary to start with the removal of children from hazardous and exploitative work and with the protection of working children in order to help attitudes evolve from the acceptance of child labour - as an inevitable fate for the poor - to a commitment to action against it. However, temporary measures to protect working children must be linked to concrete measures to remove them from hazardous work. Otherwise, protective measures tend to perpetuate the practice.
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