Who Are the Child Laborers

When we began in 2003 the government estimated that there were one million children in the situation of illegal labor.  Although all types of work for children under 15 years of age are prohibited by law, child labor persists. One reason is that child labor is seen as very normal, even commendable, for the poor of Latin society. Ecuador continues to have around 650,000 children and teens exploited in the work force because child protection laws are not enforced.   Some children work wandering the streets of the city, shining shoes, selling candy or other items.  Adolescents work in construction, on public buses, in the outdoor markets, or as house maids. Some children are forced to stay at home all day to care for younger brothers and sisters while their parents go out to work. Others who live in the Indigenous communities are required to spend long hours in the fields tending the animals or working in agriculture. Rather than their work being a positive experience of learning skills and responsibility, the nature of their work has a lasting negative effect both psychologically, socially and intellectually on the young worker.  They are exposed to physical danger as well as the influences of drugs, alcohol, and the threat of sexual exploitation and abuse.

A comparatively high percentage of working children are being raised by step fathers or step mothers, by single mothers or by other extended family members because their parents have immigrated to foreign countries in search of work.  Many of our children have suffered the loss of the death of a parent. Child abuse is common among our families. The FACES children suffer from the lack of physical affection and a sense of security. They have low self-esteem.

Many of the adolescents do not live with their parents. Having immigrated to the city to work, they live in small block rooms, either alone, with an older brother or sister, or with another family member. These brave youth seem to be able to survive in the poorest of conditions.

  July 2021  
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