A report released by Human Rights Watch said that children as young as nine living in the Philippines are working in unstable, 80-foot deep pits and underwater off shores and rivers processing gold with mercury.
Human Rights Watch said they interviewed 135 people in the last year including 65 child miners ages nine to 17.
Rosalinda Baldoz, Labor Secretary, said the Filipino government is prosecuting the people responsible for forcing the kids to work and is providing health, education and livelihood programs to the children.
“Filipino children are working in absolutely terrifying conditions in small-scale gold mines,” said Juliane Kippenberg, associate children’s rights director at Human Rights Watch and author of the report. “The Philippine government prohibits dangerous child labor, but has done very little to enforce the law.”
Meanwhile, here in America nearly 82% of kids between six and 14 already have their own cell phones. See where this is going?
Of course, this is not the first time we’ve heard of children in developing countries being subjected to dangerous work or being recruited into life threatening situations such as human trafficking or becoming members of rebel armies, but it’s astonishing that in 2015 the disparity between American kids and youth from other countries is still so prevalent and seems to be worsening.
While your child is probably teaching you how to use your new iPhone 6S, someone else’s child is inhaling toxic fumes in an underground pit.
I would argue that even the children who are considered “underprivileged” in America still have a much better deal than any other disadvantaged youth, such as the gold mining kids in the Philippines.
The real kicker is, it's even hard to encourage privileged youth to count their blessings and embrace their privilege because it’s actually damaging them.
San Diego State University psychology professor Jean M. Twenge conducted a study in which she analyzed the Narcissistic Personality Inventory scores of 16,475 American college students between 1979 and 2006.
She found that one out of four students in recent generations showed high rates of narcissism.
With the increased use of social media and explosion of reality TV, we can be almost certain those numbers have increased. If our kids are excessively self-involved, how can we expect them to care about others enough to work toward eradicating inequality?
While we know disparity isn’t going to change overnight and there are many economic factors that play into it, new generations have the ability to incite change as long as they are taught empathy, compassion and tolerance.
Stories such as the one involving the children in the Philippines need to be exposed and discussed not just among adults, but adolescents too.
The horrific conditions that disadvantaged children have to endure are not solely a result of circumstance or income inequality but can also be attributed to flat out disregard for basic human rights.
Not to suggest Americans need to be ashamed of their privilege, but the only way we can hope for a more balanced society, at home and abroad, is to spread awareness and hold ourselves accountable.
What’s wrong with logging off for a little while to give our youth something more to care about than themselves?