Workplace Abuse and Economic Exploitation of Children Working in the Streets of Latin American Cities
International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health, Vol 16, No 2 (2010)
Posted: 14 Dec 2009 Last revised: 4 May 2018
Objective: This study presents the characteristics of a group of children working in the streets of Latin America and explores the prevalence and factors associated to workplace abuse and economic exploitation.
Methods: Cross-sectional study of 584 children between 5 and 17 years of age working in the streets of Bogotá (Colombia), Lima (Peru), Quito (Ecuador), and Sao Paulo (Brazil). Descriptive analyses and multivariate logistic regressions were conducted, with workplace abuse (physical or psychological abuse while working in the streets) and economic exploitation (obligation to work, meet monetary quotas, or forfeit more than half of one’s income) regressed on occupational and sociodemographic variables.
Results: Children were on average 11.8 years of age; 66% attended school; 37% had health care coverage; 7% lived in the streets; 71% resided with their mothers; and 22% lived with relatives or acquaintances. One quarter of the sample reported having been abused in the streets and almost two-thirds reported suffering economic exploitation Work place abuse was associated with number of hours working in the street (OR: 1.08; CI: 1.01, 1.19), occupational injury (OR: 1.70; CI: 1.13, 2.57), and schooling (OR: 0.63; CI: 0.40, 0.99). Economic exploitation was associated with begging (OR: 4.94; CI: 1.96, 12.48), younger age (OR: 0.90; CI: 0.83, 0.97), maternal co-residence (OR: 2.61; CI: 1.58, 4.33), not living in the streets (OR: 0.35; CI: 0.14, 0.88), and not having health care coverage (OR: 0.60; CI: 0.37, 0.98).
Conclusions: This study provides evidence of abuse and economic exploitation suffered by children working in the streets of Latin American cities. Correlates of these negative outcomes, such as number of hours that children work in the streets, truancy and the lack of health care coverage affiliation are also highlighted. Increase of health care coverage and conditional cash transfer programs are recommended to improve the situation.
Keywords: Child abuse, Latin America, Work, Street
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation