Children working throughout the world have listed verbal, physical and sexual abuse as what they feared the most about their jobs, in a comprehensive new study carried out by Terre des Hommes and German child rights organisation Kindernothilfe.

Children from 25 different countries in all corners of the globe told the ‘Time 2 Talk’ survey how being beaten by parents, caregivers, relatives and employers was something that troubled them while working. A 15-year-old boy working in an Indian stone mine told the survey how he didn’t like it when “the owner thrashes us for making small mistakes in our work”.

Child workers, especially girls, also spoke of the threat of sexual harassment and abuse they encountered while working, such as being inappropriately touched or propositioned by staff and customers in their workplaces. One boy working as a waste collector in Indonesia told researchers: “I feel ashamed when my friend asks me to open my pants and touches me in my private area.

Being injured or getting into an accident was also something children told our researchers they feared while at work. Children who carried out agricultural work complained of aching and injured hands and arms, as well as harm caused by exposure to pesticides as chemicals.

Working in other sectors carries its own risks. Youngsters working in mines told researchers of their fear of accidents and breathing problems they suffered due to dust and children working in all sectors complained of aching limbs and headaches.

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Pictures of children taking part in the Time 2 Talk survey. ©tdh

The Time 2 Talk report surveyed almost 2,000 child workers aged between 5 and 18 in 39 countries across all regions of the world. All the children interviewed were scathing in their condemnation of the worst forms of child labour, but also saw positives in working such as supporting their parents, contributing to their family’s income and ensuring they could afford an education. Much has been said about working children and the challenges they face, but nobody has been talking with the children themselves – until now.

The Time 2 Talk survey is breaking down the barriers between working children and the policymakers working on child labour issues,” said Tuto Beat Wehrle, Terre des Hommes’ Latin America Coordinator.

It is crucial that working children and these policymakers can exchange views on child labour in order to create truly sustainable policies and programmes. There is still a long way to go and lots of work to do, but this link can help to benefit working children across the world.

The survey also states twelve things which those working on child labour issues should do to improve the situations of children in work – from local authorities to NGOs and international policymakers. These include reducing poverty so children would not be under as much pressure to work, taking the views of working children into account when developing policies and providing inclusive, free and safe education for children in both urban and rural areas.

Over 152 million children are in work across the planet, according to the latest statistics from the International Labour Organisation. Of these, 73 million children are working in conditions which are hazardous to their health, development and wellbeing while ten million children are forcibly enslaved.

To combat these problems, Terre des Hommes and Kindernothilfe launched the Time 2 Talk survey results during the fourth International Conference on the Sustained Eradication of Child Labour in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The conference aims to share knowledge, policies and good practices on how child labour can be wiped out across the world.