Identifying priority target groups
There is a specific context for every direct action programme, and programme directions will depend upon the needs of specific groups of child workers in each country and the possibilities for practical measures.
As the child labour problem is so widespread, priorities have to be set based on the nature of the work and the risks involved for children. Given the socio-economic situation of some countries and the lack of adequate resources and infrastructure, the complete elimination of child labour will be a lengthy process. But there can be no excuse for ignoring flagrant cases of child abuse that are an outright breach of human rights and an affront to the dignity of children. Clearly the children who fall into this category are those engaged in activities that pose a serious danger to their health, or physical or moral integrity; those who work in slave-like conditions or are subjected to forced labour; and those caught up in illicit networks such as prostitution, drug trafficking and pornography (see Chapter 2, section 2.4). Some children are particularly vulnerable to this type of exploitation because of their age and sex, because they live and work on their own, or because they belong to socially excluded groups.
Appropriate measures need to be adopted urgently to rescue children from these worst forms of child labour. Prevention is crucial; but children must also be withdrawn from such activities and both they and their families provided with alternatives. Sometimes, especially if a country is only starting to address child labour problems, there is resistance to begin to combat some of the worst forms, because of political and social sensitivity. The existence of these types of child labour is even denied and very few partners come forward who can effectively address the problems. Nonetheless, at a minimum, the worst forms of child labour need to be tackled immediately.
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