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Special Issue "Child Labour, Working Children and Health"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Children's Health".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 April 2022) | Viewed by 8874

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Nicola Suyin Pocock
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Gender Violence & Health Centre, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London WC1E 7HT, UK
Interests: migration; child labour; labour exploitation; early childhood development; evidence synthesis methods
Prof. Dr. Anaclaudia Gastal Fassa
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Social Medicine, Federal University of Pelotas, Pelotas 96030-000, Brazil
Interests: child labour; occupational safety & health; sexual & reproductive health

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Worldwide, there are an estimated 218 million working children, of whom 152 million are child labourers. Of these children, 72.5 million are in hazardous work, defined in global estimates as children working in hazardous industries, hazardous occupations or working beyond the set thresholds of hours for their age group (ILO, 2017). According to recent systematic reviews, child labour is associated with adverse physical health outcomes, ranging from poor nutritional status, a higher prevalence of injuries, occupational illness and infectious diseases (Shendell et al., 2016; Batomen Kuimi et al., 2018; Ibrahim et al., 2019). Child labour is also associated with poor mental health outcomes, including depression, anxiety and low self-esteem (Sturrock and Hodes, 2016). Moreover, the developmental stages of adolescence must be considered when examining the interaction with Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) risks among young workers (Sámano-Ríos et al., 2019). Developmental characteristics include biological shifts to more nocturnal wakefulness among adolescents, who may be less alert during long work shifts (Sámano-Ríos et al., 2019). Adolescents may feel a proclivity for thrill seeking and increased reactivity to stressors, alongside a lack of understanding and awareness of OSH risks, until cognitive shifts take place via neuromaturation (ibid). Currently, few studies account for these unique developmental characteristics among young workers.

While studies indicate the burden of ill health among working children and adolescents, the current evidence base is of poor methodological quality. Sampling methods are often opportunistic or purposive, with just a third of studies in one review including a control group and adjusting for potential confounders (Batomen Kuimi et al., 2018). Furthermore, methods to measure health outcomes among working children are rarely documented, making it difficult to assess whether methods are appropriate for use with working children (Pocock et al., 2020). Methodological weaknesses limit the causal interpretation of associations reported in existing studies.

This Special Issue in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is devoted to recent findings on “Child Labour, Working Children and Health”. Following the first special issue on these children a decade ago (Miller, 2010), this Issue will make a substantial contribution to the measurement of health outcomes among child labourers and working children. We particularly welcome submissions that focus on the following, under-studied topics and regions:

  • Child domestic workers;
  • Child labourers and working children in Africa and China;
  • Psychosocial health of child labourers/working children;
  • Long-term health impacts of child labour into adulthood;
  • Evaluations of interventions for current working youth;
  • Workplace violence measurement among child labourers/working children;
  • Occupational health risks and outcomes measurement among child labourers/working children;
  • Empirical studies that explore thresholds at which particular tasks become hazardous for health;
  • Empirical studies that include control groups of non-working children;
  • Validation studies of outcome measures used with child labourers/working children.

Papers may be methodological or subject matter specific. Studies may involve primary or secondary quantitative or qualitative data. We also welcome systematic and scoping reviews on these topics.

We look forward to receiving your submission.

References

Batomen Kuimi, B. L. et al. Child labour and health: a systematic review. International Journal of Public Health 2018, 63, 663–672. doi:10.1007/s00038-018-1075-9.
Ibrahim, A. et al. Child labor and health: a systematic literature review of the impacts of child labor on child’s health in low- and middle-income countries. Journal of Public Health (Oxford, England) 2019, 41, 18–26. doi:10.1093/pubmed/fdy018.
ILO. Global Estimates of Child Labour: Results and trends, 2012-2016. Report. ILO. 2017. Available online: http://www.ilo.org/global/publications/books/WCMS_575499/lang--en/index.htm (accessed on 1 October 2018).
Miller, M. E. Child labor and protecting young workers around the world. An introduction to this issue. International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health, 2010, 16, 103–112. doi:10.1179/107735210799160435.
Pocock, N. S. et al. Measurement tools for occupational safety and health and workplace violence among working children: rapid review protocol. 2020. Available online: https://www.crd.york.ac.uk/prospero/display_record.php?RecordID=194325.
Sámano-Ríos, M. L. et al. Occupational safety and health interventions to protect young workers from hazardous work—A scoping review. Safety Science 2019, 113, 389–403. doi:10.1016/j.ssci.2018.11.024.
Shendell, D. G. et al. Exposures resulting in safety and health concerns for child laborers in less developed countries. Journal of Environmental and Public Health 2016, doi:10.1155/2016/3985498.
Sturrock, S. and Hodes, M. Child labour in low- and middle-income countries and its consequences for mental health: a systematic literature review of epidemiologic studies. European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry 2016, 25, 1273–1286. doi:10.1007/s00787-016-0864-z.

Dr. Nicola Suyin Pocock
Prof. Dr. Anaclaudia Gastal Fassa
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2500 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • child labour
  • working children
  • young workers
  • occupational safety and health

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

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Article
Child Labor in Family Tobacco Farms in Southern Brazil: Occupational Exposure and Related Health Problems
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(22), 12255; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182212255 - 22 Nov 2021
Viewed by 714
Abstract
Tobacco farming is considered Hazardous Child Labor in Brazil. This study examined the work of children and adolescents in tobacco farming, characterizing the level of urinary cotinine and the occurrence of Green Tobacco Sickness (GTS), pesticide poisoning, respiratory symptoms, and musculoskeletal disorders. A [...] Read more.
Tobacco farming is considered Hazardous Child Labor in Brazil. This study examined the work of children and adolescents in tobacco farming, characterizing the level of urinary cotinine and the occurrence of Green Tobacco Sickness (GTS), pesticide poisoning, respiratory symptoms, and musculoskeletal disorders. A cross-sectional descriptive study was conducted with a random sample of tobacco growers under 18 years old in Southern Brazil. Ninety-nine young people were interviewed at 79 family farms. The majority began working in agriculture before they were 14 and worked harvesting and tying hands of tobacco; 60% were 16 or 17 years old, and 51.5% were male. During their lifetime, 24.5% reported GTS, and 3% reported pesticide poisoning. In the previous year, 29.3% reported low back pain, 6.1% wheezing, and 16.2% coughing without having a cold. Half of the 12 young people evaluated had over 100 ng/mL of urinary cotinine. The study indicates that child laborers do various activities and present a high prevalence of health problems. Health workers should be trained to identify child laborers and their impacts on health. Full-time farm schools could provide knowledge about sustainable agricultural production, reducing the rates of age-grade mismatch, without taking young people away from rural areas. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Child Labour, Working Children and Health)
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Review

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Review
Social Norms and Family Child Labor: A Systematic Literature Review
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(7), 4082; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19074082 - 30 Mar 2022
Viewed by 618
Abstract
Background. Research has established the family as the predominant context for child labor practices. Decisions to involve children in child labor within the family or by a family member (herein family child labor) is strongly motivated by cultural beliefs that normalize child labor. [...] Read more.
Background. Research has established the family as the predominant context for child labor practices. Decisions to involve children in child labor within the family or by a family member (herein family child labor) is strongly motivated by cultural beliefs that normalize child labor. This systematic review sought to synthesize evidence on the social norms that support child labor practices, and the normative interpretation of international child labor legislation/standards. Methods. We followed the PRISMA procedure for systematic review by reviewing empirical articles published between 2000 to 2021 and contained within the four key databases: Scopus, ISI Web of Sciences, PubMed and Embase. Findings from 13 articles that met the inclusion criteria were analyzed thematically. Results. The review included studies from three continents: Africa, Asia and Europe. Gender norms, informal apprenticeship norm, norms on succession and sustenance as well as obedience, were key social norms that influenced child labor practices in the family. Parents’ decision to involve children in child labor was strongly influenced by the collective acceptance of some occupations (e.g., cocoa farming and fishing) as family occupations, which need to be preserved, undertaken and passed on to children. Child rights and the UNCRC principle of children’s participation were considered foreign to most non-western countries and interpreted as contravention to the cherished social norm of obedience. The findings underlie the link between social norms and the common social values of resilience, hard work, and respect. Conclusion. The results provide foundations and target to develop normative change intervention programs to re-orient the negative interpretations of common social values and provide alternative pathways that prevent child labor within the social context. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Child Labour, Working Children and Health)
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Other

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Systematic Review
Child Domestic Work, Violence, and Health Outcomes: A Rapid Systematic Review
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(1), 427; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19010427 - 31 Dec 2021
Viewed by 696
Abstract
This rapid systematic review describes violence and health outcomes among child domestic workers (CDWs) taken from 17 studies conducted in low- and middle-income countries. Our analysis estimated the median reported rates of violence in CDWs aged 5–17-year-olds to be 56.2% (emotional; range: 13–92%), [...] Read more.
This rapid systematic review describes violence and health outcomes among child domestic workers (CDWs) taken from 17 studies conducted in low- and middle-income countries. Our analysis estimated the median reported rates of violence in CDWs aged 5–17-year-olds to be 56.2% (emotional; range: 13–92%), 18.9% (physical; range: 1.7–71.4%), and 2.2% (sexual; range: 0–62%). Both boys and girls reported emotional abuse and sexual violence with emotional abuse being the most common. In Ethiopia and India, violence was associated with severe physical injuries and sexual insecurity among a third to half of CDWs. CDWs in India and Togo reported lower levels of psycho-social well-being than controls. In India, physical punishment was correlated with poor psycho-social well-being of CDWs [OR: 3.6; 95% CI: 3.2–4; p < 0.0001]. Across the studies, between 7% and 68% of CDWs reported work-related illness and injuries, and one third to half had received no medical treatment. On average, children worked between 9 and 15 h per day with no rest days. Findings highlight that many CDWs are exposed to abuse and other health hazards but that conditions vary substantially by context. Because of the often-hidden nature of child domestic work, future initiatives will need to be specifically designed to reach children in private households. Young workers will also benefit from strategies to change social norms around the value and vulnerability of children in domestic work and the long-term implications of harm during childhood. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Child Labour, Working Children and Health)
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Systematic Review
Evaluations of Interventions with Child Domestic Workers: A Rapid Systematic Review
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(19), 10084; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph181910084 - 25 Sep 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 797
Abstract
Little is known about interventions to support the education, skills training, and health of female child domestic workers (CDWs). This rapid systematic literature review followed PRISMA guidelines (PROSPERO registration: CRD42019148702) and summarises peer-reviewed and grey literature on health, education, and economic interventions for [...] Read more.
Little is known about interventions to support the education, skills training, and health of female child domestic workers (CDWs). This rapid systematic literature review followed PRISMA guidelines (PROSPERO registration: CRD42019148702) and summarises peer-reviewed and grey literature on health, education, and economic interventions for CDWs and interventions targeting employers. We searched six electronic databases and purposively searched grey literature. We included observational studies, which included an intervention, quasi-experimental, and experimental studies. Two reviewers independently screened articles. Data were extracted on intervention description, inputs, activities, type of evaluation, outcomes, effect size or impact where applicable, limitations, and ethical considerations. All studies were quality appraised. We identified eight papers from five studies. Six papers reported on health-related outcomes, two on education-related outcomes, and three on economic outcomes. No evaluations of employer-related interventions were identified. Only one intervention specifically targeted CDWs. Others included CDWs in their sample but did not disaggregate data for CDWs. Findings suggest that the evaluated interventions had a limited impact on CDW’s health, education, and economic outcomes. While it appears feasible to reach CDWs with outreach interventions, further work is needed to improve the consistency of their effectiveness and their ability to improve CDWs’ current and future prospects. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Child Labour, Working Children and Health)
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Systematic Review
The Health Impacts of Hazardous Chemical Exposures among Child Labourers in Low- and Middle-Income Countries
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(10), 5496; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18105496 - 20 May 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1652
Abstract
Of 218 million working children worldwide, many are suspected to be exposed to hazardous chemicals. This review aims to synthesize reported evidence over the last two decades on chemical exposure and adverse health consequences in children labourers in low- and middle-income Countries (LMIC). [...] Read more.
Of 218 million working children worldwide, many are suspected to be exposed to hazardous chemicals. This review aims to synthesize reported evidence over the last two decades on chemical exposure and adverse health consequences in children labourers in low- and middle-income Countries (LMIC). Included studies investigated health outcomes related to chemical exposures among child labourers aged 5–18 in LMIC. Twenty-three papers were selected for review, focusing on pesticides (n = 5), solvents (n = 3), metals (n = 13) and persistent organic pollutants (POPs) (n = 2). Adverse health effects identified among child labourers included abnormal biomarkers, for example elevated blood and urine chemical concentrations, neurobehavioural deficits and neurological symptoms, mental health issues, oxidative stress and DNA damage, poor growth, asthma, and hypothyroidism. Workplace exposure to chemicals has pernicious health effects on child labourers. Large research gaps exist, in particular for long-term health impacts through chronic conditions and diseases with long latencies. A sizeable disease burden in later life is likely to be directly attributable to chemicals exposures. We urge national and international agencies concerned with child labour and occupational health, to prioritize research and interventions aiming to reduce noxious chemical exposures in workplaces where children are likely to be present. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Child Labour, Working Children and Health)
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Systematic Review
Suitability of Measurement Tools for Assessing the Prevalence of Child Domestic Work: A Rapid Systematic Review
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(5), 2357; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18052357 - 28 Feb 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1563
Abstract
Child domestic work (CDW) is a hidden form of child labour. Globally, there were an estimated 17.2 million CDWs aged 5–17 in 2012, but there has been little critical analysis of methods and survey instruments used to capture prevalence of CDW. This rapid [...] Read more.
Child domestic work (CDW) is a hidden form of child labour. Globally, there were an estimated 17.2 million CDWs aged 5–17 in 2012, but there has been little critical analysis of methods and survey instruments used to capture prevalence of CDW. This rapid systematic review identified and critically reviewed the measurement tools used to estimate CDWs in Low- and Middle-Income Countries, following PRISMA guidelines (PROSPERO registration: CRD42019148702). Fourteen studies were included. In nationally representative surveys, CDW prevalence ranged from 17% among 13–24-year-old females in Haiti to 2% of children aged 10–17 in Brazil. Two good quality studies and one good quality measurement tool were identified. CDW prevalence was assessed using occupation-based methods (n = 9/14), household roster (n = 7) and industry methods (n = 4). Six studies combined approaches. Four studies included task-based questions; one study used this method to formally calculate prevalence. The task-based study estimated 30,000 more CDWs compared to other methods. CDWs are probably being undercounted, based on current standard measurement approaches. We recommend use of more sensitive, task-based methods for inclusion in household surveys. The cognitive and pilot testing of newly developed task-based questions is essential to ensure comprehension. In analyses, researchers should consider CDWs who may be disguised as distant or non-relatives. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Child Labour, Working Children and Health)
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