Colombia’s government statistics agency said Thursday that 13% of the country’s children are involved in child labor.
Colombia’s National Statistics Department (DANE) reported that approximately 1.5 million children between the ages of five and 17 were dedicated to labor activity in 2011, sometimes along with school and chores at home.
This is a large increase from the last poll that was taken in 2009, showing a 9.2% rate of child labor. According to newspaper El Espectador, 10.7% of child labor takes place in cities and 19.1% in rural areas, the majority of the labor occurring in commercial shops and agriculture.
Jorge Bustamante, director of DANE, said that most of the minors are also involved in household chores including running errands, going to the market, cleaning and maintenance. Allegedly, the principle reasons that the child population works is “to have their own money” and “to participate in the economic activity of the family.” However, he also reported that 23% of working children don’t attend school.
Bustamante considers the growth in child labor to be, “delicate news for the country because the objective of a society in development is to not have their children work.” He said that the challenge from here will be that the society needs to make a big effort so that there are no children in the work force.
The Minister of Labor, Rafael Pardo, said that the government looks to take out approximately 635,000 minors from the work force over the next two years.
At the base of it, DANE sees child labor as a cultural issue. They reported that at least half of employed children are employees of their own fathers, that child labor is more rural than urban, more masculine than feminine, and above all, it is more associated with adolescents between the ages of four and 14 years old than it is with young adults older than 14 years of age.