The study examined newspaper coverage of child labour. The main objective was to study the frequency, nature and forms of child labour coverage by the Daily Graphic. The study also set out to establish the type of story and source of child labour issues and covered by the newspaper and to identify the main actors of the child labour issues.aAntiqtautive method that specifically

used content analysis was chosen to evaluate child labour stories in the Daily Graphic. The findings from the study showed that the coverage of child labour was low in the Daily Graphic even though some attention was given to it. Of the 78 editions sampled for analysis, 37 stories generally straight news, were on child labour. Many of these stories however, did not give an in- depth report to help readers understand the issues of child labour. Government officials had the dominant voice in the stories analysed while children’s voices were ill represented in the issues that concerned them.



Child Labour is a social problem of global concern associated with the rise of industrial production and capitalism (Shahrokhi, 1996). Even though it appeared in earlier ages in agricultural societies, it was especially obvious during the Industrial Revolution of the 18th century in Great Britain. Children during this age were forced to work for long hours under dangerous conditions for little stipend in factories and mines. This affected the welfare and health of many of these children who were below ten years old.

A child is defined as anyone below the age of eighteen (18) according to Article 1 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Meaning of child labour

According to Bruscino (2001:1), “one of the biggest problems with child labour is the existence of the phrase child labour.” It comes with a lot of weight, but very little meaning. What comes to the minds of people when they hear it? What does it mean to people when they say it? There is no single definition for child labour. For some people, having a child do part-time work while in school is not right, while others do not hesitate to send their children to the farm every day.

To call all work children engage in as child labour would be a generalization of the issue under discussion. Thus, in order to define child labour, the context in which the definition is used must

be analysed. Thus, varying from country to country, work may be classified as child labour depending on the child’s age, the type and hours of work done, the circumstances under which the work is performed and the objectives being pursued. Almost all children engage in some form of work. Children may work for pleasure, leisure, hobby, helping parents, money or aspiration. Children are now encouraged to take part in practical education that will help them with skills to persist in the economical world. This is part of the normal process of growing up in most developing countries. According to International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC),

Child labour is often defined as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential, dignity and harmful to their physical and mental development. It refers to work that is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to children and/or interferes with their schooling by depriving them of the opportunity to attend school, obliging them to leave school prematurely or requiring them to attempt to combine school attendance with excessively long and heavy work.

Many scholars define child labour as the participation of school-aged children on a regular basis in the labour force in order to earn a living for themselves or to supplement household income. Child labour therefore prevents school participation and possibly exposes children to health hazards. Empirical studies reveal that, children contribute as high as one third of household income at times and their income source cannot be treated as insignificant by poor families. (Patrinos and Psacharopoulos, 1994).

According to ILO convention 138, child labour is when children under the age of fifteen (15) are made to do work that is physically or mentally harmful and interrupts their education and social development. Thus, children’s engagement in commercial activity can be positive if it does not negatively affect their health and development or interfere with their education. Therefore, work

that does not interfere with education (light work) is permitted from the age of twelve (12) years under the ILO convention 138.

Forms of child labour

Children are involved in different labour activities reflecting the economic hardships faced by households. This gives an indication of the nature of the problem. Children are either working for family support or for themselves. Child work may be beneficial for children and their development if the work has a link with some form of education. Any kind of child work may be harmful for children if it impedes children’s education and development. In this way, child labour is to be in a continuum that it might range from best to worst and from beneficial to harmful and more exploitative ones, depending on the nature and condition of work (White, 1997).

With regard to the nature and type of child labour, the ILO and International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC) identified nineteen (19) worst forms of child labour. Many of these forms of child labour are very difficult to address, as they are scattered and invisible. According to the ILO, these forms range from trafficking of girls for prostitution and slavery, as well as using children in activities such as head porterage, fishing with dangerous chemicals, domestic servitude, farming and mining with dangerous machinery. The worst forms of child labour as defined by Article 3 of ILO Convention 182 include:

  • all forms of slavery or practices similar to slavery, such as the sale and trafficking of children, debt bondage and serfdom and forced or compulsory labour, including forced or compulsory recruitment of children for use in armed conflict.