We lack tangible arguments on how work affects psychological functioning in children and adolescents: is it always deleterious or can it be favourable in some areas? The International Labour Organisation has been engaged in a study on the impact of work in brick kilns on psychosocial well-being of persons under 18 years. What are the aspects of psychological functioning that significantly differ when comparing working children to their non-working peers?Methods
In this study, a group of 900 children aged 11 to 17 who work in brick factories in four Asian countries is compared to a group of 650 children of the same age and socio-demographic status but who are not working. Each child was given an individual interview and administered a 31 item psychosocial questionnaire for children (the IPAW). A Classification Tree Analysis (CTA) was then performed on the data searching for segmentation items between workers and non-workers.Results
The study finds a significant difference between children who work and those who do not. The main psychosocial items which account for the difference are:Results
To a lesser extent, two other variables -- friends’ support and engagement in sports and games (leisure time) -- are also affected in the case of working children. In all cases, the scores are significantly less favourable for working children, and indicate a deleterious link between work and psychosocial development of children working in brick kilns.Discussion
Although the CTA cannot confirm causality, the potential deleterious impact of work on self-concept, on social integration and on hopefulness in children is of great concern. The uniqueness of children’s psychosocial well-being, methods capable of assessing it, and conclusions about the risk factors are discussed. These data can be persuasive in campaigns to eliminate hazardous work and to improve health and psychosocial well-being of children and adolescents.