Children worldwide are facing threats on a daily basis and a large portion of these threats are uncontrollable and have to be endured by these underage individuals. These threats are caused by geographical location, social status, governmental policies, environmental setting, etc and can be classified through the degree of severity as well as the level of control the individual has over said threat. Children oftentimes face the same threats as adults but the entire approach towards the issue has to be altered as the question of consciousness and morals have to be considered when dissecting issues pertaining to minors. The relationship between a major and a minor can only exist within a certain context and when boundaries are crossed the blame is directly placed on the major with virtually no questions asked on the basis of manipulation for the sake of a one-sided advantageous gain. The act of using a minor to attain any form of profit, power, status, sexual gratification or some personal advantage is classified as child exploitation and it is one of the largest and most lethal forms of threats that children face today.
Child exploitation is an umbrella term used for all immoralities pertaining to a minor but a primary grievance that nations face pertaining to child sexual misconduct and the acts of solicitation against kids. Any sexual advances towards children are regarded as sick and vile behaviour and while in the past such immoral actions were disregarded due to societal indifference, nowadays such acts would cause an individual to not only face legal action but also public scrutinization of the highest regard. Bouncing back from such a heinous crime would be virtually impossible and it permanently tarnishes one’s self-image and future prospects. In many countries, sex offenders are required to post large signs stating that they are in fact sex offenders on their front lawn and the individual will be permanently included on the online sex offender registry where any personal information can be sought out and attained by the public. Studies show that most convicted sex offenders would not want to live a life after prison considering there isn’t really a life for them to lead at all. Starting a family becomes a distant fantasy due to past crimes and nobody is willing to believe that a previous sex offender could change no matter how many years have gone by.
The act of attaining sexual gratification from children exists from two different standpoints and both sides have to be evaluated differently. Paedophilia and child sexual abuse are regarded as two different things but those terms are often interchanged. Adult sexual contact with a child is morally wrong on any grounds but there is a psychological component that has to be taken into account when considering the term paedophile. According to Britannica, paedophilia is a psychosexual disorder generally affecting adults who show sexual interest or attempt to engage in sexual acts with prepubescent children. Paedophilia may be distinguished from hebephilia (sexual preference for individuals who typically are between ages 11 and 14) and ephebophilia (sexual preference for late-stage adolescents, typically ages 15 and 16) but the context of the pedophilic disorder may vary depending on the country. Depending on the jurisdiction, sexual acts between a 16-year-old and a 20-year-old may not constitute paedophilia as some cultures accept sexual activity, marriage and childbearing at much younger ages and greater age differences are not frowned upon.
It should also be noted that while a paedophile by definition would be attracted to adolescents, these individuals do not become sexual offenders until they act upon those sexual urges. This may include the act of physically molesting a child or viewing child pornography. Situational offenders on the other hand do not seek out opportunities to abuse a child but rather implement grooming techniques by building trust that ultimately enabled them to be placed in a predatory situation. Confusing a psychiatric disorder and sex crimes could result in more serious outcomes and glossing over the issue by magnifying the result of action without having studied the cause will ultimately allow the problem to persist without any solution.
If predators are opportunity makers, situational offenders are opportunity takers. – Dr. Anna Salter
Measuring how often child sexual abuses take place is tricky as many victims do not disclose or report their abuse. Researchers have rates varying from 1% to 35% and most professionals use rates from 8% to 20%. Regardless of the flawed statistics, it can be said that at least half a million babies in the United States alone will be sexually abused before they turn 18. According to Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), every 9 minutes, child protective services substantiates or finds evidence for, a claim of child abuse. 34% of all victims are under age 12 and 66% are aged 12-17, it should also be noted that one in 9 girls and 1 in 53 boys under age 18 would experience child molestation or hands-on sexual abuse at one point of their life. Females aged 16-19 are also 4 times more likely than the general population to be victims of attempted rape, rape and sexual assault. As of 2021, 1 in 10 children in Malaysia are likely to be a victim of sexual abuse and these numbers fluctuated severely due to the stresses of the global pandemic.
When trying to decode the premise of child molestation or the act of seeking out sexual gratification from children, it is important to understand the state of mind in which an individual must be in for such an act to be conducted. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has established some of the psychological issues tied to the issue of sexual abuse and a prominent one is caused due to mental repression. Individuals struggling with job loss, divorce, illness or feelings of depression start to think differently and see the world in a different light, thus they react in what we consider to be an animalistic way. Those who have paedophilic thoughts start acting on their desires as they come to terms with the fact there is nothing for them to live for and to repress their urges seems to be an unnecessary setback. Then there are those who are morally indiscriminate as they abuse not only children but also adults in a sexual manner not for the pleasures of sex but instead for the sole purpose of asserting dominance and control over another human. There are also offenders who react in such a manner as they are sexually indiscriminate and have an unusual addiction to sex which involves hyper-specific kinks and fetishes. Finally, there is the inadequate offender who is to be considered as a social outcast due to physical differences and deformities or the inability to perform societal communication on a fluid level and these individuals seek out intimate relationships with children due to past failures with adult interactions. The more vulnerable the offender, the greater the risk of power exertion over weaker individuals as a means to feel adequate in society.
From a legal standpoint, there are in fact numerous laws that protect children from being sexually exploited and in Malaysia section 354 of the Penal Code notes child molestation as a criminal offence punishable for up to a maximum of 10-year imprisonment or fine or whipping or any two of such punishments. With this legal boundary put in place, individuals still commit such crimes on the basis of their flawed thinking and it is important to combat these thinking errors. A common misconception many offenders have relates to them convincing themselves that these children aren’t exactly young and they will not remember nor understand the scenario after several years. They fail to realize the possible trauma that is caused and the magnitude of the situation as a whole. There is also the perception that children are not ‘people’ and they have no rights considering that they are a mere possession of the parent. There is also the idea that the offenders justify sexual acts by pinning it on the needs and wants of the child and proposing that the child in fact had developed a readiness to enter into such a relationship. There are also offenders who are uneducated and unaware of the premise of sexual consent and these individuals validate their actions by manifesting the idea that if the child consents then it is in fact not abuse.
Child molestation could happen to anyone at any time but there are several child and family characteristics that significantly heighten or lower the risk of such predatory cases and a prime example of such risk factor would be a fragile family structure. Children who are born into a steady family are less likely to be targeted by predators compared to children who have lost their parents altogether or children who live in broken households. Children who live with a single parent that has a life in a partner is 20 times more likely to be sexually taken advantage of (Sedlack, et. al., 2010). Gender also plays an important role as females are more likely to be abused and while most studies magnify men as sexual predators, this is only the case due to the lack of empirical data collected amongst women and age is also a significant factor that contributes to child molestation as children between ages 7 to 13 are noted to be the most vulnerable. Data suggests that consent requires some level of maturity and that benchmark varies according to the country but it can be regarded that a common age of consent worldwide is 16 and below that children are often times unaware and blindly curious towards the idea of sex. Most children show signs of sexual curiosity by the age of 10 and most children will start to engage in “locker room behaviour” but they will still show signs of embarrassment and denial towards their feelings. The act of denial would lead these children to be more sexually complicit when around older individuals who may show signs of sexual interest, while the child may be uncomfortable they will often times not show any signs of restraint either.
The risks of being molested as a child may also be caused by factors that can’t be controlled such as race and ethnicity as African American children are found to be more likely to be sexually abused compared to white children and this statistic rings true when taking into account the incarcerations statistics in the United States alone. African Americans are held more accountable for their actions in court and as such, they have collectively been labelled unfairly while their counterparts face virtually no legal backlash for their actions. Children born into low socioeconomic status households are also 3 times more likely to be sexually abused and this statistic also rings true for children who live in rural areas as children born into unfortunate positions really don’t have a place to call home and they are forced to face the harsh realities of life at a much younger age due to the lack of child protection services available. Children with disabilities are also at a greater risk to be molested and the statistic doubles in comparison to an able-bodied person due to the fact that the individual will be unable to retaliate and protect themselves. This is alarming as it proves the fact that child molestation as an issue is related to many other social justice issues that the world faces today.
Child labour is defined by the International Labour Organization as the work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity. It is said that such work would be harmful to the mental and physical development of the child. Unicef notes that nearly 1 in 10 children are subjected to child labour worldwide. At the beginning of 2020, roughly 160 million children were subjected to child labour with a sizable increase of 8.4 million which was the first increase in two decades due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 79 million of these children are said to be working in dirty, dangerous and degrading work with Africa being speculated to have the largest number of child labourers in the world. It comes without saying that countries with higher poverty rates are at extreme risks when it comes to the execution of poor child labour laws due to the immense benefits these governments stand to have with an increase in manpower to drive capitalistic gain. In order to tackle child labour at its core, it is important to first dissect why such a form of labour would even exist as the reasons go far beyond just poverty.
Children don’t really have much going for them in their earlier years as most time is spent goofing around and exploring new ideas with the emphasis on the discovery part and this longing curiosity is guided by the education system put in place around the world. Children are reliant on their education in order to amount to anything in the coming years but the method of attaining such education may vary and different nations have different ways of going about this. The key here is ensuring every child has the ability to access quality education but this key criterion is lacking in many third world countries such as South Sudan (35% literacy). In the South of Sudan, approximately 70% of children are unable to attend school as they live in pastoral communities which require them to constantly move with their cattle and this is also paired with many religious views which hinder females from schooling. During the spike of the pandemic, India faced one of the greatest booms of child exploitation due to the rapid closures of schools which led many parents to lose faith in the education system as a whole. Parents no longer saw education as a means of exiting poverty and decided that putting their children in the labour force early on is the best way to protect them for their future.
Besides, the lack of overall work in a nation will also subject children to working at a younger age as the idea of having a job at all has a large appeal due to the scarcity that is present within the nation. A nation with a thriving economy would make education a requirement as most industries would primarily rely on specialisation but this isn’t the case for less technologically advanced nations which rely on skill-based work as a whole. Countries with weak economies are driven by manual labour and the higher the number, the higher the economic drive so with this form of logic applied, virtually anyone is given a job as it is a mere menial task that relies on repetitiveness. This incessant need for more manpower has led children into industries predominantly held by adults and this will cause the wages to go down as children barely understand the value of money and have little to no authority in the workspace meaning jobs once done by adults can now be sourced to children at half the cost. This will ultimately cripple the economy as a whole but it will benefit shady business owners who are willing to bend the rules as it is obvious such businesses would not have the morals to pay taxes or fully disclose their documentation if they are willing to exploit children for the sake of profit.
It may seem like child labour is done from the perspective of a predator but it can also be done from a place of pity and sympathy. Not all businesses want to take advantage of child labour as most small business owners are basically sustaining individuals trying to put food on the table and make just enough to get by in their country. These are not individuals who hope to garner millions by subjecting children to extreme conditions, rather they hire children to learn a craft such as woodworking or smithing so they will not be forced into poverty over time. Learning a skill at a young age has always been seen as an advantage so long as it is done in a balanced manner but oftentimes these skills are not learnt out of passion rather they are forced into doing it for financial security. Many families in developing countries choose to have more children with the idea of child labour in mind and this is not done with ill intention as most uneducated families fail to recognize the negative effects of child labour and merely see it as a good opportunity for children to build character and survive in what they consider to be the cruelty of the real world. Some cultures may also idolise child labour and see it as a rite of passage that has to be endured and these traditional values are held dear by those who live in scarcity as traditions are the only driving force when it comes to generational betterment.
Child labour not only happens in common working-class industries but is also a major issue from the perspective of nations that are constantly at war. Countries that lack peace require children to take up duties as foot soldiers due to the lack of manpower. For example, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, Syria and Yemen currently have the largest number of child soldiers with many children being recruited as informants, spies, looters or sexual slaves. In 2020, 19379 children were verified to have been involved in 21 national conflicts illegally and those numbers have yet to reduce as true estimates suggest there are nearly 300 000 children under the age of 18 who are currently serving as combatants around the globe. The average age for child soldiers are just over 12 years old and the youngest to ever be verified is a 5-year-old Ugandan. These children are often times recruited as human shields and nobody really expects them to return home alive. They are as good as dead when they leave their homes and many parents are forced to come to terms with that heart-breaking fact.
In countries that lack peace and order, child labour doesn’t only exist from the side of the government but also exists from the perspective of illegal practices such as drug trafficking and the sale of contraband. These children are used as the front so the people behind such illegal schemes can walk away scot-free in the event the operation fails. Child labour is built on the premise of using easily manipulated children as scapegoats for some of the most heinous crimes to be committed. These kids obviously don’t know good from bad and they can also see the short term benefit of earning a couple of bucks but they fail to realize the sheer magnitude of some of the crimes they are made to commit. Child labour makes up a huge portion of both good and bad industries. The ones that are underground are scrutinised due to the fact they are illegal in principle but the ones that operate above ground continue to function with little to no backlash as the end consumer rarely cares about the process rather we care more about the end product. No matter how much we claim to care about child exploitation, we are far from solving the issue as a whole, the root of the problem has to be rectified in order for the term to be extinct as many systems that are currently running in our world are unfortunately powered by children who are forced into such positions.
Child exploitation often happens when the child is removed from a safe environment or individuals who are seen to be legal guardians to the child and this process is done through the means of kidnapping. Child abduction or child theft is the unauthorized removal of a minor under the age of legal adulthood. Child abduction includes both legal and social categories and abduction as an act can happen from both internal and external sources. The act of abduction or child kidnapping can be divided into both parental abduction and kidnapping by strangers. Parental child abduction has a more personal tie as a family relative without parental agreement may remove the child illegally from the premises via several unruly methods even if those methods require an establishment of trust. Parental child abduction may include parental alienation which in itself is a form of abuse seeking to disconnect the child from the targeted parent. When the child feels alone and helpless they may not even know they are being abducted by a relative as it may be seen as an act of love and this will allow the abduction to happen extremely seamlessly. When the family foundation is broken it will be very easy to manipulate and inseminate ideas into the minds of the child as they will feel extremely vulnerable and unloved in that given moment.
25% of kids who are abducted are taken by strangers and almost all kids kidnapped by strangers are female. Most abducted kids are in their teens and children are rarely abducted from school grounds as foreign abductions are more commonly done for the sake of extortion or elicit ransom. Kidnapping in large numbers may also be done for the sake of human trafficking as stealing a random child or a group of children would be for the sake of slavery or sexual abuse. Based on the Action Against Abduction’s Analysis of 2011/12 crime data, approximately 200 attempted abductions were recorded by the police in the United Kingdom (UK). Roughly 50 of those cases were successful but it is also important to recognize that these failed attempts prove that the intentions for child kidnapping are still rampant but we have managed to make a dent in the number of arrests over the years. There has been nearly a 50% reduce in child abduction cases between the years 2014 and 2021 and while these numbers are impressive, the police reports are still not highly reliable as public surveys suggest that roughly 1 in every 100 children experiences a stranger trying to lure them away in order to do them harm. It is also noted that nearly 1 in every 600 children will be made to go with a stranger and some will be forced to perform acts of sexual arousal.
With both forms of child kidnapping defined, it can now be defined legally and the act of child kidnapping falls under The Child Abduction Act (1984) which makes it a criminal offence for an individual who has some form of connection with a child under the age of 16 to transport a child out of the UK without the required forms of consent. This act also makes it a criminal offence for strangers to detain children under the age of 16 without lawful authority or reasonable excuse. In Malaysia, according to Section 363 of the Penal Code, a kidnapper shall be punished with imprisonment for a term of up to 7 years and shall also be liable to a fine but it should be noted that parental child abduction is in fact not a crime in Malaysia. This is quite an alarming fact and it definitely affects the kidnapping rates in the nation due to the lack of fear that is present amongst those who have ill-mannered thoughts.
When fathoming the act of child kidnapping it is hard to think what goes on the head of the offender but there are several psychological factors that should be considered to further study this issue. The mind of a kidnapper is altered by their own background and upbringings such as the fact that these individuals have desperate parents and the U.S. Department of Justice in 2002 studied family abductions involving 203 900 children and up to 53% of the abductions involved biological fathers taking their children and 25% were kidnapped by their biological mothers. When in a custodial argument, a parent or spouse may be afraid that their children are being brutally abused so they go above and beyond in order to save their biological children from facing any harm. Losing custody over a child is an extremely scary one and this will cause individuals to have a skewed mindset and it will lead them to do morally unquestionable things for the sake of love.
When discussing stranger kidnaps, mental illness plays an important factor as 9% of abductions involved children who are taken by a slight acquaintance or a stranger according to a U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention report. These kidnappings can be caused due to acute emotional distress as exhibited in July of 1998 when Gloria Williams pretended to be a nurse at Jacksonville, Florida and walked off with newborn Kamiyah Mobley. She later testified that the act was out of spontaneity after she had a miscarriage and the loss of her two sons which followed the abuse of her then-boyfriend. Research related to stereotypical kidnappings also shows 54% of offenders have alcohol or drug problems while 64% had average or higher intelligence, also 3 out of 5 victims of kidnapping were in fact sexually abused, assaulted or exploited.
Having understood the mind of a kidnapper, it is also vital to analyze the means by which a kidnapper chooses the victim. Kidnappers develop a profile for their target based on the ultimate goal of the kidnapping. If the kidnapping is carried out for monetary gain then the family background of the individual has to be studied and the decision is made based on the outward appearance of wealth or based on factual reasoning based on the child’s parents. Information for such kidnappings is attained from personal sources who may know the child intimately such as housemaids, personal chefs, friends, etc. Kidnapping for the sake of sexual gain is conducted based on the appearance of the child and the mannerism a child possesses. Children who are timider are easily taken advantage of as they are submissive and would agree without much talkback. Energetic and outspoken children, while they may possess some level of curiosity would voice those questions out loud and they hold the risk of causing a scene, reducing the discretion factor of the ordeal.
Preventing and Overcoming Child Molestation
With the premise of child molestation and kidnapping in mind, it is important to recognize ways to prevent such crimes from occurring. While many will believe that victim-blaming is a false ideology, we should still find ways to prevent ourselves from being a victim and when considering crimes involving children, parents have to play an active role in being the solution. Children may be taught regarding the ways they can stay safe in public but often times the doctrines that are provided just aren’t factually backed up so it is difficult for children to believe unsubstantiated stories. Parents have to be more educated regarding the subject themselves to allow for changes to occur. Sexual abuse while it may be forceful, it also occurs due to victims who may be complicit in certain situations as they are overcome with curiosity and fail to realize the magnitude of the scenario they are placed in.
The first method of prevention is for parents to talk about body parts at an early age as e method from preventing unwanted curiosity. The whole taboo surrounding sex education will end up being the downfall of a child’s private life. Body parts should be named with their biological name as children who are well versed with the actual names of their body parts will be able to explain inappropriate incidents that have happened to them much clearer. The use of euphemism will only confuse the child further and it causes there to be a language barrier when important information is being conveyed to officials. When it comes to being private with body parts, parents have to explain that there are situations in which adults may see each other naked but that does not mean the same rule applies for them since they are still children. Explain the concept of parental relationship that allows parents to see their own child naked but other people outside of the home should only see them with clothes on. Make it clear that doctors have medical experience and they are allowed to see children naked but even then there are only certain forms of consensual touching that is allowed. If children feel uncomfortable during their check-up they should be able to voice it out to prevent professionals from taking advantage of others in the name of their college degrees.
Secondly, parents can explain the concept of privacy to their children and explain how their body parts are in fact private and only to be shown to a very select number of individuals under very specific situations. Even though incidents involving private parts should remain private, in the event that privacy is violated children should feel safe and confident to share those incidents with their parents. If these issues are considered extremely private then children will never come forward if something happens as they will be embarrassed and they will also live in fear thinking that they were in the wrong. Ensure that no matter what happens, if their feel violated that is guaranteed that the other side was in wrong and they should not feel scared to come forward as there is no such thing as a secret between a stranger and a child. Parents should explain the juvenile crime to some extent and explain how children below 10 cant be prosecuted in court (Doli Incapax) and with that in mind, no matter what any stranger tells them and whatever form of extortion the offender uses to ensure a secret, the child is protected in a court of law no matter the scenario.
Thirdly, teach children how to get out of sticky situations in the event they feel unsafe or manipulated into doing something that seems immoral. Children should be able to say ‘no’ if they wish to do so and they should do so with no guilty conscience. They should never be obliged to please someone and this mentality relates back to their lives at home. If parents have high expectations of their kids and always expect perfection in all scenarios, these children will end up developing a robotic mindset that leads to constant agreement. The child will never be conditioned to voice his/her opinion or do something based on their needs or wants as they are hardwired to oblige to the needs or wants of others. The child will be accustomed to societal wants and needs and any form of disappointment from a different party will lead to the child feeling as if they have no worth beyond the validation of their parents or society in general. If a child feels threatened they should be able to just walk away without having to feel like the blame is on their end and this mindset will allow them to walk away or react accordingly in scenarios that involve sexual exploitation behind closed doors.
Fourthly, children can have a code word in order to alarm parents if they feel uncomfortable around certain guests or household friends. This is a way to eradicate the tension immediately and allow for parents to intervene before anything further can take place. Younger children may not know when this code should be used as it may be hard to differentiate good touch and bad touch early on especially when children aren’t old enough to truly grasp the concept of consent. A bad touch may be something that feels ticklish or somewhat good, molestation is an act of sexual touch and in most cases, it doesn’t hurt and this is what causes most children to go along with it. Our bodies are only programmed to invoke the fight or flight response when we feel pain but pleasure is a whole other ballgame so it is important to let children know that there are also other scenarios in which actions have to be taken and those scenarios may breach the mere confine of pain. As we further push the boundaries of pain and pleasure, it will be harder to truly separate both as consenting adults do fine certain extents of pain to be pleasurable and thus they incorporate such pains in the bedroom. For children, it is much easier to eliminate this concept altogether during a conversation as it will only increase the level of complexity and cause more misunderstandings.
From a governmental standpoint, research conducted on the topic is extremely scarce and the data pools aren’t reliable enough to truly take a deep dive into the issue so the CDC should in fact look into improving future research. A way that can be done is by improving the surveillance system and altering the data collection method for monitoring child sexual abuse. New policies and legislation should also be put in place as primary prevention of child sexual abuse as there are clear loopholes found in the law of certain nations when studying this issue. While the basic methods of parental guidance are a means to reduce child molestation, increased dissemination, as well as the implementation of evidence-based strategies, can truly aid in combating this issue and evidence-based methods can only be attained through governmental organizations that are equipped with professionals who have thoroughly studied the matter. Ultimately, there is still a lot that can be done through various avenues in order to combat the issue of child molestation and sexual exploitation so there has to be a collaborative effort done at an early stage to eradicate the numbers altogether.
It may be impossible to circumvent the problem altogether but we should also take the initiative to help those who have become victims find the light and come out of their trauma. In order to study the methods of overcoming child molestation, we must first understand what the victims of such trauma go through first. Children who have been molested often times have an increase in nightmares and they face sleep difficulties as their trauma comes back to haunt them. They tend to be more withdrawn and secluded growing up as they fear adults or anyone who is considered a stranger. These children grow up having to battle anxiety and depression and this will lead them to struggle during their teenage years due to the burden of the past. Child molestation victims also have sexual knowledge that is inappropriate for their age and this will lead them to make some questionable decisions concerning their sex life in the future so an incident that happened years ago may just affect the entire outcome of one’s future.
The way to help these victims overcome their trauma is by reminding them that they are not to blame for the abuse they had gone through. Regardless of what they had done in that situation, it was the offender who is to blame and the child should never develop a sense of self-hatred. Child molestation victims feel bad not only for themselves but also the people around them as there will always be signs of sympathy for the victim and backlash towards the parents and children will feel that the hatred their parents receive is caused by them. Shouldering such guilt is an unfair burden for a child and it is the parents role to relieve some of that guilt and channel the blame into different avenues. As a parent, always assert the fact that the child is to be believed at all costs and never alter the form of affection that child receives just because of certain unfortunate incidents. Try to get back into a normal routine and don’t bring up the incident in unnecessary situations to unknown individuals as it will cause the child to relive the trauma. As a final result, there is always professional care and treatment that is available and it is a valid avenue for parents to explore as guidance counsellors or therapists may be able to deal with the issue in a much more professional manner and curb any emotional distress in the future.
Preventing and Overcoming Child Labour
A primary method to reduce child labour is by understanding the issue thoroughly as this is something that concerns all of us in one way or another. The reason child labour exists is due to overconsumption and increased demand. We have reached a point where we purchase more than we consume and are left with a net positive in terms of items. There are definitely things in our household that are yet to be opened or used and this is due to the fact that purchases can be made from the comfort of our own home. Buying things have never been easier and so we never think twice before any purchase. As consumers, we watch an ad and trick ourselves into buying a product when in actuality there was no need for it at all. Impulse purchases have led us to a point where most things that exist in the marketplace don’t really have a use case, all it does is create more competition as companies and brands try to churn out more things at a cheaper price to appeal to our constant need of wanting newer and slightly better products in short timeframes. The fastest way to reduce the cost of an item and make the product more competitive is by reducing labour costs. This way profit margins remain the same so companies lose virtually nothing and all the losses are shouldered by the workers who have no choice but to accept the new terms as they lack the qualification or expertise for any other job.
Consumers should buy fair trade and sweatshop-free products but the problem is identifying such shops and also expecting the consumer to pay a premium for items that typically cost nothing due to mass production is a tall order. Not everyone can afford to move away from fast fashion or only purchase locally sourced produce so the best course of action would be to revaluate consumerism as we know it and just reduce all unnecessary purchases and then slowly phase away from billion-dollar corporations who in fact do profit off shady business practices. Watch out for fair trade labels such as Fair Trade Certified or Goodweave label before making purchases. This would definitely reduce the number of items that can be purchased but maybe that is a good thing. We are at a point of oversaturation and we are spoiled for options so maybe hitting the rewind button isn’t such a bad thing. By purchasing less, consumerism driven industries will ultimately slow down and companies will no longer be incentivized to own hundred of factories with tens of thousands of employees as consumers become more mindful of their purchases. We can also afford to pay more by buying less and this will slowly help heal the economy and revive it to a better and more stable state.
A way to tackle child labour at its core is by ensuring that children are given the necessary tools to succeed in life. Children would be equipped with knowledge at a young age and they should not be required to contribute to the workforce in any way. Knowledge is power and stripping that right away from a child will result in them doing things they wish they didn’t have to do. Child laws shouldn’t just exist on paper in a dusty old book rather they should be taught to kids so they know their self worth and also their human rights so they aren’t easily swayed into doing things. Child labour is a result of weak economies and weak economies are a result of unknowledgeable citizens so it is inevitable that a nation would be at a loss in the short term if they implement child labour laws but ultimately it is the best way to build the wealth of the nation over a long period of time. The focus should be on increasing the quality of life of citizens rather than profiting from their misfortunes and exploiting the youth of the nation.
From a higher up perspective child labour can be curbed through smart investments as the reality is that investors and stakeholders are the ones who hold true power over a company and without these stakeholders, such companies wouldn’t even exist. Thus investors have to make smart decisions and know where their money is going if the change is to be made from within the company. Extraordinary amounts of wealth can make us complacent and lazy and this is what causes flaws to arise in systems so it is important that we are also held accountable for our actions and make sure that the decisions we make do not benefit us at the cost of hurting others. Government leaders can increase sustainable business opportunities for adults and really fire back when child labour laws are broken. True punishment has to be inflicted or we will no longer be a part of a capitalistic society as things start to shift towards a corporatist political ideology. Corporatism isn’t so far off as many governments seem to fear the power of corporations more and more and this seems to be coming at the cost of neglecting their own citizens to appease the corporations that drive the wealth of the nation.
Preventing and Overcoming Child Kidnapping
Preventing child molestation and labour isn’t good enough to combat the issue as a whole as there may be scenarios in which a child is lured into an exploitative scenario and the bait wasn’t sexual gain to begin with. The act of extracting the child from a safe environment should be prevented first as this will prevent all other crimes that follow. A primary method of prevention is to prevent leaving kids alone in public spaces without any form of adult supervision. No matter how busy a parent is, they should always tend to the safety of their children and ensure they are in a somewhat regulated environment to prevent stranger danger. Sending children to preschool or getting a babysitter is a better idea than just dropping off the child at a playground and running some errands. This type of irresponsible parenting will be noted as a pattern by kidnappers and this allows such children to be highly vulnerable.
Secondly, couples involved in custody battles should try and remain civil to prevent emotions from running too high. Parents should be understanding and never have to cross the line in order to kidnap their children regardless of how much they miss them. Parents should also always have recently updated photographs of their children and it is advised that new pictures are taken at least every 3 months. This will help simplify the search process if a child does end up going missing as police sketches based on facial features won’t be a necessity. Having updated pictures and knowing your child on a personal level can definitely aid in preventing a potential kidnapping in the event if a child runs off, as a parent you would know the general location in which he/she could be at. Knowing your child’s psychological pattern and movements will also help recognize the type of individuals that could have kidnapped the child based on some profiling built around general demographic, facial features and physical build.
Since most children today grow up with smartphones of their own, GPS can be used to track the movement of the child and ensure the child is always within safe perimeters. In the event of an emergency, an SOS can be triggered to alert authorities of the location of the child so immediate action can be taken. As technology advances, kidnappers are also becoming much smarter so they may either throw the phone out or shut it down completely. To account for such scenarios, parents can use TILE trackers or Air Tags placed in their bags or shoes as these trackers are harder to locate and the chances of them getting detected are extremely slim. In 2013, missing kids activist Marc Klaas partnered with high-tech companies to develop a GPS locator wristwatch for kids and software to block online predators. These 21st-century solutions are exactly what we need for everting and shortening the duration of kidnappings.
Another method to prevent child kidnappings is by educating children on the importance of direct and effective communication. Parents can have regular talks with their children so they are wary of strangers and slowly expose them to the concept of child safety. Children should always notify their parents regarding their whereabouts when in public but it should also be understood that children tend to be mischievous in nature so parents have to take the extra step and inform school officials that their child is not to leave school premises with anyone other than the legal guardians. Children should also get home at the agreed upon time and always answer phone calls if they are from mom and dad as this is the best way to communicate in the event an emergency arises. Both parties have to be vigilant and the child should shout and run if they feel there are being preyed upon or targeted by certain individuals. Children should also never strike long-standing conversations with strangers and they should never accept any unplanned offers for a ride no matter the circumstances.
Even with all these prevention methods put in place, child kidnappings still occur and rescued victims will be forced to live with the trauma they once endured. Children that have been held captive, end up experiencing what is known as a prison mindset where they are more regressive with feelings of hypersensitivity, sleep disorder and a heightened sense of anxiety and depression. Children who have experienced abduction find it difficult to re-enter their families of origin and it will take a substantial amount of counselling and time for them to feel comfortable once more. Victims of child abduction also feel a repeated sense of confusion and hostility when in an unknown location. They are less likely to leave the comfort of their parents and are less trusting of others. Their increased sense of awareness of their surroundings become their downfall as these children no longer enjoy the simplistic nature of their lives as they have been exposed to the horrors of the real world in unknown condition.
The way to overcome such trauma is by first receiving medical attention to prevent any illicit substances from being present in the body of the child. The use of chloroform or any harmful drugs would harm the internal organs and as such medical care should always be the first step. The child should also be connected with its loved ones as soon as possible as they will be able to regain some level of comfort in the presence of known individuals. If the child has constant thoughts of the trauma, they can always write about it in a journal or diary and share their writings during therapy or counselling to slowly decompose their potential fears. Child abduction victims are also prominently placed in the limelight right after the incident happens and it is the responsibility of the adult to protect their child’s privacy and avoid media overexposure that may cause the child to return to their initial state of distraught. Ultimately victims of child kidnapping will require time to heal their physical, mental and emotional wounds but human beings have always been built to persevere through tough times in spite of tragedy and all that is needed at the end of the day is support from others.
In the 21st century, the landscape of child safety has definitely changed as parents are forced to accustom themselves to technological advancements in order to regulate their child’s screen time and start understanding the online lives of their kids. Online child abuse is a unique form of sexual exploitation that is noted as cyber molestation as it is more anonymous in nature. Cybercrimes are a ballgame of their own but the general principle of such crimes are far more detrimental today as Gen Z children are pretty much born with a screen in front of their eyes. The reason sexual grooming exists online is due to the lack of parental control and the fact that most technological devices of today are pretty much used to raise a child. Children on social media become an immediate target when they are shunned from real-world interactions and their only place of solace is behind a screen. Online child safety can be done through the use of hardware and software but even then these strengths can end up as a weakness if these technologies are hacked into so it is important to limit the amount of online interaction a child has and help them develop a life in the real world as well forming a safe and healthy lifestyle online.
Child safety is important when carrying out menial tasks and there are many minuscule ways to avoid risks such as ensuring that children are equipped with their address and phone number either written on a piece of paper or memorized by heart. If an adolescent child is travelling alone, make sure they sit near families rather than strangers when taking public transportation and if they have to use the lift, never get on one that is occupied by one individual who seems somewhat shady or threatening. Make sure the child is familiar with emergency contacts and let them know the procedure and steps that should take in the event they are in danger. Children can also carry whistles or shrill alarms to alert people around them if they are being abused or harassed by strangers. While children are not allowed to carry weapons, their voice acts as a suitable defence mechanism and if they want to take it a step further, they can learn martial arts as a means of self-defence.
When travelling alone children should stay alert and prevent using headphones so they will know when something is happening around them. They should also take well-lit roads and never use alleyways even in the morning as such environmental factors end up being a disadvantage for the child. Children should also refrain from using flashy jewellery or carrying expensive gadgets on them as this makes them an easy target and they can also turn off their mobile phone ringers as a preventive measure so strangers will think the child isn’t carrying anything of worth. If things get out of control, children can always use pepper spray and run away as fast as possible if they are grabbed by strangers. Children should also be thought to always remain calm if things go out of hand and they are somehow placed in a submissive position, they should retain their energy and be hopeful that officials will track them down and there will always be people on the outside looking for them at all hours of the day. Hope is integral for children so they don’t make any rash decisions in the event they are caught, instilling a sense of possibility will allow them to persevere and think more rationally in extreme conditions.
Overall child safety should always be a primary concern and it is something we should strive for at all costs. This may take years to accomplish but small changes may lead to great changes. The future of the world is in the hands of the youth and they should always be protected at all costs. Every initiative helps towards making a bigger difference but we have to start now before it is too late.
- Natasha Daniels, Hill Child Counseling in Chandler, Arizona (https://childmind.org/bio/natasha-daniels/)
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