Kids at stoplights offering to wipe a windshield for a few coins, or little ones hawking goods at produce markets: In much of the developing world, it’s common to see children as young as eight or nine hard at work.
And it’s no different in Colombia, where an estimated 1.5 million children between the ages of five and 17 work in such situations for more than 15 hours a week. Nearly nine percent of kids aged five to 14 work, a 2011 government census found. Though the government was able to document the scope of child labor in Colombia, finding lasting solutions to end the practice, which can keep kids out of school and place them in dangerous work environments, has proved challenging around the globe.
But in Colombia, a new smart phone crowdsourcing application is helping authorities and researchers tackle the problem. Whenever users see a child working they can take a picture with their phone and log the location, which the app sends to the country’s child welfare agency. …
“It’s a tool that puts the power to report child labor in the palm of anyone’s hands,” says Mauricio García, of the Colombian Family Welfare Institute (ICBF), which receives the information, including photos, global positioning system coordinates, and other details, sent by users.
Since ICBF started using the information gathered by the app last February, about 3,800 reports have been filed, and not all of them from cell phone users in Colombia.
“We’ve gotten reports from Asia and Africa, because anyone can download the app from their phone’s app store,” says Claudia Aparicio, head of Fundación Telefónica in Colombia, the organization that spearheaded the crowdsourcing project as part of a broader campaign to fight child labor in Latin America. The organization maps all reports but only in Colombia is action taken at this time.
Colombia is not, by far, the worst country in the region in terms of child labor. Bolivia for example has rates as high as 40 percent. …
Once a child laborer is identified, officials verify whether the child is enrolled in school, and may call the parents and children in for counseling. (source)
It seems it hasn’t occurred to anyone that children have a right to privacy. Poor people’s privacy is already disproportionally at risk, so no reason to make it worse. If some good came out of it, one might call that an acceptable price, but this doesn’t seem to be the case.
More ironic human rights violations here.