April 14. 2024. 6:05

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Save the Children survey shows troubling data for child labour in Italy

About 336,000 children between 7-15 (6.8%) have had work experience, while 58,000 (27.8%) adolescents between 14-15 say they have done work that is detrimental to their schooling and psychophysical well-being, according to the “It’s not a game” survey conducted by Save the Children.

The survey was presented at an event organised in Rome on Tuesday in the presence of, among others, the Labor and Social Policies Minister Marina Elvira Calderone.

“For many boys and girls in Italy, entering the world of work too early, before the permitted age, negatively affects growth and educational continuity, fueling the phenomenon of early school leaving”, said Claudio Tesauro, president of Save the Children.

The legal working age in Italy is 16, after having fulfilled compulsory schooling.

“These are children who risk becoming entangled in the vicious cycle of educational poverty, with heavy repercussions on adulthood,” he added.

The Italian National Institute of Statistics (ISTAT) confirms that in 2021 nearly 13% of young people between 18-24 have exited the education and training system without a diploma or qualification. The European average is 9.7%.

According to Save the Children’s “In Search of Lost Time” report, in 2021, 23.1% of young people between the ages of 15 and 29 in Italy were out of any work, education or training pathway. The number of the so-called “Neet” – Not in Education, Employment or Training – is the highest in the European Union, more than double that of France and Germany.

The work sectors affected by the phenomenon are catering (25.9%), retail sales in stores and businesses (16.2%), work in the countryside (9.2%) or on construction sites (7.8%) and care work with the continuity of brothers, sisters or relatives (7.3%). Added to this list is online work (5.7%): realisation of social or video game content, reselling fashion or technology clothing.

The data shows there is a strong correlation between early work experiences and involvement in the criminal circuit. About 40% of minors and youth taken into care by Juvenile Justice Services were working before they were of legal age. Among them, more than one in ten started working at age 11 or earlier, and over 60% engaged in activities that were harmful to their development and mental and physical well-being.

“In a season of economic crisis and strong growth in child poverty, the risk is that, in the absence of intervention, the picture could get even worse,” said Save the Children’s Italy-EU Program Director Raffaela Milano, who called for a coordinated institutional action to address the phenomenon.

“There is a need for direct intervention starting from the most deprived territories to strengthen monitoring networks, support for educational and training pathways and the fight against economic and educational poverty, with a synergic action of institutions and all social and economic actors”, Milano added.

(Federica Pascale | EURACTIV.it)