CHILD LABOUR MEDIA CAMPAIGN LAUNCHED THIS MORNING

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Prime Minister David Thompson (centre), pays rapt attention as Acting Permanent Secretary, Shelley Carrington (third from right), explains the Ministry of Labour’s mass media sensitisation programme on child labour in Barbados

Government will not sit idly by and allow its children to be exploited or disadvantaged.

This assurance was given by Prime Minister David Thompson today as he launched the Ministry of Labour’s mass media sensitisation programme on child labour in Barbados.

The campaign, which will involve print, radio and television ads, brochures and posters, seeks to inform members of the public as to what constitutes child labour and its worst forms, as well as to help them to understand that child labour is a violation of children’s rights.

While acknowledging that child labour was not a major problem here, he revealed that an International Labour Organization (ILO) rapid assessment study carried out in 2002 had found elements of the Worst Forms of Child Labour in several Caribbean territories, including Barbados.

Therefore, the Ministry of Labour, Mr. Thompson said, was seeking to be proactive in sensitising the public on the issue, so they could recognise it and take appropriate action.

“Our main concern in Barbados is with the commercial sexual exploitation of children. We do not know the extent of this phenomenon, but we are of the view that if a few children are involved, that is a few too many,” the Prime Minister stressed.

Child Labour is defined as work which would impact children under the age of 16 years and prevent them from attaining educational fulfillment; while its worst forms include forced labour, commercial sexual exploitation of children, production and trafficking of drugs and any work which is likely to harm the health, safety and/or morals of children.

The Prime Minister was joined by members of the Child Labour Education Sub-Committee, representatives from UNICEF and the acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Labour, Shelley Carrington.

Ms. Carrington stressed the need for additional research into child labour in Barbados.

“The studies carried out in 2002 were very short and they point the way to future research. We need to combine survey instruments with qualitative research, like observations and focus groups, and quite importantly we need to develop a policy on children,” she said.

Ms. Carrington also urged persons who see children being exploited or engaged in illegal acts against their will, to contact the relevant authorities including the Ministry of Labour, the Child Care Board and the Royal Barbados Police Force.

The launch of the media campaign also coincided with the commemoration of the International Day against Child Labour which is observed annually on June 12.

The media campaign builds upon the earlier work of the Education Sub-Committee where workshops were held to sensitise stakeholders such as the media, church, teachers, parents, community groups and law enforcement officials on matters pertaining to child labour.

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