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Yes, child labor is a very real issue around the world.
There are two sides to this coin. Although it is not a popular position, one needs to consider the benefits of child labor. Some children are helping to support their families. Their meager wage is helping the family survive. Should children be slaving in sweatshops? No, of course not! Yet the problem is more complicated than just shutting sweatshops down. If we do, more than likely another will pop up. Also, what do the children and their families do?
[Even] if these measures were able to curb demand for products made by children, the effects of heightened poverty and greater desperation would likely be worse for those very children than the working conditions in question. (enotes)
Child labor is an impossible lose-lose situation. The only way to help make the problem go away is treat the illness. The economy in these countries is the reason why the child labor exists. These children are starving not because they work in Nike factories, but because they have no parents, or their parents are also working for nearly nothing. In order to improve their situation, we need to improve the entire system.
In the meantime, increasing the wage would help families survive better, and hopefully prevent children from needing to work.
The workers say that if they could earn just 36 cents an hour, they could climb out of misery and into poverty, where they could live with a modicum of decency. (Harvard)
The answer is to wake up and realize what is going on, and take steps to solve it. Using children enslaved to cheap labor is an old solution.
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