Is the use of children in the arts and the media an abuse of their rights?

Essay by onglt1 May 2004

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For many millions of children, work is an ordeal, a source of suffering and exploitation, and a fundamental abuse of human rights. In general, children are defined as those under the age of 18, unless the laws of a particular country set the legal age for adulthood as younger than 18. As Hobbs and McKechnie point out, 'children' by which broadly speaking in meant individuals who have not yet reached minimum school-leaving age. In addition, children role as participants in the media is not given the attention it deserves. Moreover, the source of their spending power tends to be ignored as an issue. On the other hand, large numbers of children are at risk mainly because of the very early age at which they commence work. Clearly of this view, it is claimed that children are involved in employment at an early age result in educational deprivation, higher rates of alcohol and drug use, diminished parental supervision, poor health and physical development.

Yet, child work can be an important element in maturation, securing the transition from childhood to adulthood and development of sense of personal responsibility. There remains concern that these benefits come with a cost to the development or increased risk to the children.

A common objection to child employment is that it interferes with the child's education. According to Woll, child employment deprives children of their rights of expression and their right to an education. Similarly, children who work full-time often never attend school and thereby lose their inherent right to an education. On the other hand, a growing phenomenon therefore is the large number of children who work while going school. However, this combination of school plus work offers the possibility of some education for working children but it also raises other problems. As Hobbs and...