Under the headline “Child Labour Re-emerges in Naples”, the article describes how thousands of children have been forced to quit school and find jobs in order to help feed their families in the southern Italian metropolis. The article cites a local government report from 2011 which noted that 54,000 children left the education system in the Campania region between 2005 and 2009. Some 38 percent of these children were less than 13 years old.
The article goes on to record how child labour has become a fact of life in the region, with small children involved in a broad range of occupations. The deputy mayor of Naples is cited as saying: “Of course, we were the poorest region in Italy. But we haven’t seen a situation like this since the end of the Second World War… At age 10, these kids are already working 12 hours a day, which is a clear breach of their right to development”.
The Le Monde article points out that the desperate plight of children and youth in the region is a direct result of the austerity measures and financial “reforms” introduced by a succession of Italian governments. These have sharply reduced or eliminated access to federal welfare benefits for the unemployed and poor.
Watch for this practice to become common again in the US, in the not too distant future.