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There are several laws and conventions which spell out the basic human rights to which children everywhere are entitled. These conventions protect children’s rights by setting minimum standards that governments who ratify the conventions must meet in respecting the rights of children, and providing health care, education, legal and social services to them in their countries. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Children spells out several rights and privileges children must enjoy, and it defines a child as “a person below the age of 18 years” (UNCRC, 1990).

Besides the UNCRC, there exist several other legal instruments and institutions at the international, regional and national levels to safeguard the rights of children. They include the International Labour Organization (ILO), the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC), the Children’s Act of Ghana (Act 560) and the 1992 Constitution of Ghana. One of the major issues that all these instruments and institutions seek to address with respect to protecting children is the extent of their involvement in work or economic activities. That is, to what extent would their involvement be considered inimical to their interests and therefore an abuse of their rights?

In spite of all these legal frameworks, one of the challenges confronting parents or adults in Ghana is knowing the kind of work which is appropriate for children to participate in. To fully understand the concept of child work, an understanding of childhood is very essential. Children are social beings, and so childhood must be understood from a social and cultural perspective. Childhood is a developmental stage according to the Aristotelian conception of childhood. A child is a specimen which is immature but has the potential to develop into a more mature specimen with the ability to function as a normal and standard adult (Mathews & Mullin, 2018).

Childhood is very much understood in the social and cultural context because of its variability. This is because the perception of childhood is concerned with the differences in cultural and social groupings, and these conceptions reflect the inaccuracy of stating that the conception of childhood is the same across all societies. Furthermore, children learn to think, communicate and grow within a particular social and cultural setting (Ndofirepi & Shumba, 2014).

Children during childhood are affected either positively or negatively when they are developing. Positive experiences may help the brain develop, while negative experiences such as abuse and neglect may end up negatively affecting the child (Glewwe, 1999).

According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), about 73 million children aged 5 to 17 are involved in work which poses a danger to their physical, psychological, or moral wellbeing. There is, however, some work for children which can be considered legal only if they have minimal risk. Child work has therefore been clearly defined by the ILO as “children or adolescents’ participation in work which does not affect their health and personal development or interfere with their schooling”. Activities such as helping parents outside school hours are good as they contribute to the child’s development, which will make them ready for adult life by gaining skills and experience as well as contributing to their family’s welfare (ILO, 2002).

According to the ILO, children can be allowed to work, but it should be in a context that is not harmful to their development. Fulfilling domestic chores like washing dishes and clothes, running errands and cleaning the floors in the house are some of the duties children can carry out which are not detrimental to their development. (ILO, 2002). There have been diverse views on the conception of child work on the premise of economic consideration and non-economic consideration. However, from a traditional perspective, the relationship which exists between children and their parents is one of reciprocal rights and responsibilities. The notion generally maps the fact that children are cared for in terms of clothing, education, and food, so in return, children must contribute to the family by helping around the house, which in turn molds them into responsible adults (Twum-Danso, 2008).

Child work is prevalent in poor countries in Africa, South East Asia and Latin America. Statistics show that more children within the sub-Saharan region in Africa are engaged in different forms of work, with 90 percent of 8-year old children engaged in some kind of work in Ethiopia (young lives, 2017).

In Ghana, child work is considered to be an integral part of a child’s development and integration into society. There is no clear difference between child work and child labour among the people in the country. This puts children at risk because they are made to engage in work which jeopardizes their development. (NCCE, 2006).

This study examines the influence of sociocultural practices on child work, which seem not to make children enjoy their rights because of the misinterpretation of what child work means in traditional society.


According to Aries, as reported in Archard (2004), child labor was considered the norm in medieval culture. That is to say, there was no such thing as childhood, and children were forced to work as adults from an early age. When a kid becomes old enough to live without his or her parents, he or she becomes a member of adult society. This meant that a child’s social standing was determined not by his or her age or physical maturity, but by his or her capacity to strive toward becoming a responsible adult.

From a cultural standpoint, children are forced to start working at a young age. This was due to the fact that civilizations saw labor as a way of life that included a social pattern of behavior as well as other aspects such as knowledge, beliefs, arts, and rituals that served as a mechanism for young children to gather experience for adult working life. A typical cultural community, such as the Logoli culture in Kenya, allows youngsters between the ages of five and seven to participate in labor (Munroe, 1984).

Childhood is viewed as a process that children go through in order to prepare them for adulthood. The procedures that youngsters go through are thought to have an impact on them. For example, school-aged children are divided into different classes based on their ages in order to help them understand what is being taught to them, which means that children are not only isolated from adult life but also from one another in order to promote their growth (Skolnick, 1975).

In the 17th and 18th centuries, the notion of childhood as we know it now began to take shape. Prior to that, children in transitional civilizations lacked official educational facilities. Indigenous African communities teach their children their traditional practices and values via ongoing life processes. Children were taught knowledge and skills via participation in a type of labor. For example, in order to learn the necessary skills and information, children are required to go fishing or participate in farming chores with their parents (Boakye-Boaten, 2010). As a result of such methods, children are forced to participate in tasks that society deems beneficial to their upbringing. Anthropologists’ studies have revealed that children’s labor is culturally determined. For example, Fulani pastoralists’ male children acquire enormous duties by the age of seven (7), and by that age, youngsters are regarded as competent enough to manage the daily grazing of the cattle (Stenning 1962).

As society progressed, especially in the nineteenth century, middle-class children were restricted to their homes and schools. Many working-class youngsters, on the other hand, remained in labor in order to help their families survive. Poor households profit financially from their working children. Children from low-income homes help their families survive by working and contributing to the family’s income (Hendrick, 1997).

With the passage of time, a clear line was drawn between childhood and the exclusion of children from adult work environments. Children are exempted from adult social and professional life by laws and customs. States are required by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC) to protect children “from all forms of economic exploitation and from performing any work that is likely to be hazardous or to interfere with the child’s physical, mental, spiritual, moral, or social development.”

Despite the laws and agreements in place to protect children from working activities that violate their rights, it is becoming increasingly difficult to define the line between childhood and maturity. Some sociocultural traditions of child labor continue to violate children’s rights. Because of the notion of childhood, the socialization process, and damaging conventional practices such as child fosterage, child employment is one of the ways in which children’s rights are infringed. The goal of this study is to look at the sociocultural practices surrounding child labor that are in stark contrast to contemporary laws and norms that protect children from abuse and exploitation.


I.       To investigate the impact of socio-cultural practices on the rights of children.

II.    To identify ways in which sociocultural practices relating to child work may violate the rights of children?

III. To determine how child work, as a sociocultural activity, may aid in the development of children.


I.       What is the impact of socio-cultural practices on the rights of children?

II.    In what ways would cultural practices relating to child work violate the rights of children?

III. How does child work, as a sociocultural activity, aid in the development of children?


The ultimate importance of this study is to explore the meaning of sociocultural practices of child work on the rights of children and examine the ways in which certain sociocultural practices violate the rights of children.


The study’s goal is to investigate the impact of sociocultural practices on child labor on children’s rights among Obuasians living in the Obuasi metropolitan region. The study included children under the age of 16 who were working, as well as their parents or guardians, because it was critical to gather their perspectives on why they put their children to work at such a young age.


Because the study’s time limit was far too short, vast amounts of data were collected and analyzed. Going to the field and conducting interviews, as well as recording and transcribing the recorded material, were all time-consuming activities, and the time allotted for the research was limited, limiting the study’s scope.


Socio-culture: Sociocultural Perspective is a theory used in fields such as psychology and education and is used to describe awareness of circumstances surrounding individuals and how their behaviors are affected specifically by environmental, social, and cultural factors.

Child Work: Child work refers to a minor’s salutary employment within the family.

Childrens rights: Childrens rights are the human rights of children. Every child, regardless of their age, race, gender, wealth, or birthplace, has rights.

These rights are enshrined in international law in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).


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