Mexico: Child Labour: Working Children of Acapulco 1987-1993

A study of child workers in 22 different locations in Acapulco – for one day each month over a period of two years – demonstrated seasonal variations. An average of 700 children were at work at any one time in the 22 sites and of these, 40% were female and 60% male. While the majority were of mixed origin (Spanish/Indigenous), a large proportion (40%) were Indigenous. The Nahua, Mixtec, Tlapaneco and Amuzgo Indigenous populations make up only 15% of the total population, and many of the children come from rural communities outside Acapulco during the high tourist season to work. Most of the children work in the streets selling food, car washing, windscreen cleaning, basket making or singing for tourists. Another survey of 64,000 children in 194 primary schools revealed that 11% of children between the ages of six and 15 are in employment and of these, 25% miss school in order to work.
The main goal of this study was to understand children’s perception of their work hazards and to identify the principal risk factors for the major calamities that befall street children: prostitution, drug addition or disappearance. Every Saturday from 1987 to 1993 CIET offered free medical care and support to working children. A street health centre was set up in the two areas of Acapulco that had the greatest concentration of child workers. Skin diseases, intestinal parasites and acute respiratory infections accounted for the majority of ailments.