Child Labor

When you buy something, do you stop and take the time to think of the hands that made what you are purchasing? Every day, children all over the world work to barely earn a living. It is estimated, according to UNICEF, that one in 6 of the world’s children experience child labor. These children have to work to survive, and they may often be the main source of income for their families. One very important thing to do is define child labor. A child age 5 to 11 who works at least one hour of economic work (hired and paid) or 28 hours of domestic work (i.e. family business) in a week, and children ages 12 to 14 who work at least 14 hours of economic work or 28 hours of domestic work are child laborers. Finally any children ages 15 to 17 who work over 43 hours of domestic or economic work are considered child laborers. These standards determine the safe amounts of work children can do; any more work, and it is considered harmful for the child.

Child labor is in some developed countries, but it is nothing like the child labor that exists in the third world. There are rigid regulations and laws that help to prevent child labor in the United States and in other parts of the world. Work regulation is almost nonexistent in some countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Children here often work hard days and nights barely being able to sustain their families. In Africa, child labor makes up for 32% of the works force; 22% of the workforce in Asia is made up of children; and in Latin America, 17% of the workforce consists of child labor. These are huge numbers compared to just 1% in the U. S., Canada, and Europe.

Child labor is not invisible, either.  Their labor is used in factories, mines, agriculture and in many other areas. Many large, popular companies have been found using child labor. Nike and Coca Cola, two big name companies that you have probably seen in other posts on Ethical Footprint, have both been accused of using child labor on different occasions. Apple Computers has also come under fire when it was discovered that there were children working in some of its factories in China. These three names are only companies that have been discovered to be using child labor. Who knows how many companies are sneaking by with unethically produced clothing, toys, furniture, etc.

Although many of these these kids are far away from the United States that does not mean there is nothing you can do. A little research can make a big difference, and it can open your eyes to how many big companies use children to get cheaper cost of production. A good place to start is UNICEF. This organization has been working for the rights and well being of children for years. Another way to help is to just talk about child labor. Some people just do not think about it, so start a discussion. Education is a very powerful thing, and it can be a great tool in helping to stop child labor.

By: Joe Cancelliere