There are 152 million children in the world who are victims of child labor; with 73 million involved in hazardous labor. Almost half of child labor is found in Africa. 1 in 5 children in Africa (19.6%) is a child laborer, whilst prevalence in other regions such as Arab States, Asia, and Europe is between 3% and 7% (ILO, 2017). A study on role of social worker in the prevention of child trafficking (Sambo & Spies, 2012) showed that child trafficking has traumatic and devastating effects on the victims, affected families, communities as well as the country. Further, effects suffered by victims range from psychological, physical, emotional, social, and economical. Therefore, it is imperative to embark on multi-form prevention to defeat the phenomenon. The purpose of this session is to present findings and implementation strategies on community-based child rights and attitudinal change intervention that addresses the root and secondary causes of child labor and trafficking. This session focuses on the hypothesis that an increase in the knowledge of child rights can lead to reduction in child labor through increased school enrollment.
The My Rights My Future (MRMF) is a community-based prevention intervention implemented in Ghana, West Africa to address the problem. The intervention uses a community empowerment model to promote education and includes a cross-sector of the community, including the fishing industry. The intervention was designed to address both proximal (increased knowledge on child rights, long-term importance of education, and reproductive health and rights) and distal (increased school enrolment, less drop-out rate, less teenage pregnancy, and reduced number of trafficked children) outcome. MRMF recruited and trained 60 local community volunteers to educate households on the dangers of child labor and trafficking, importance of education, family planning, and child rights. Pre/post measures were conducted with community members (n = 550), students (n = 303), and teachers (n = 68) through a face to face interview using a questionnaire. The study used a second trafficking prone fishing community of similar population size as a comparison community to assess student enrollment in schools.
Chi-square and T-tests between the pre and posttest measuring changes in knowledge in child rights and importance of education, yielded significant differences. Community members and students’ knowledge on the child rights increased by 36% (p =.000) and 11% (p=.009), respectively. Similarly, results confirmed significant increase in student and community’s value for education. Interrupted Time Series Analysis (ITSA) was also used to analyze multiple baseline administrative enrollment data from the Ghana Education Service to study the trends of school enrolment prior, during, and after the MRMF intervention. Results indicate MRMF to have contributed 8% increase in school enrolment, an equivalence of 706 children in 1.5years of implementation.
Child labor and trafficking is endemic in Sub-Saharan Africa resulting in lost opportunities through education. Community-level interventions that promote education can have a robust impact on increasing school attendance in African communities to reduce the trauma and devastating effects of child labor and trafficking.