The Truth Behind Child Labor

20 Oct

Fact: Child Labor is abhorrent.

Myth: It doesn’t affect you.

Child labor is a problem and actions must be taken to solve its devastating effects. It affects millions of innocent individuals each year that are no different from you or I.

An estimated 218 million children between the ages of five and seventeen work as child laborers throughout the world.

That is 1 in every 7 children worldwide.

Almost 7 times the number of people in Tokyo, Japan, the largest city in the world.

And about 2/3 the number of people in the U.S.

Shocked yet? Most of the world is unaware of the continual problem of child labor and to the extent that it is practiced.

The Wall Street Journal collected employment data from some of the United State’s largest corporations and found “they cut their workforces by 2.9 million people over the last decade while hiring 2.4 million people overseas.”

These practices of outsourcing prevent foreign nations from economically growing and industrializing and keep American unemployment through the roof.

The only people it benefits are the greedy CEOs of “Big Business” that have their slimy fingers glued to their Gucci wallets.

In 1984 the $5.2 billion dollar Nike Corp. closed its last U.S. factory and moved its entire production to the cheap labor in Asia. Some 65,000 Nike U.S. shoe workers lost their jobs because of the move over seas (Putnam, Internet). Outsourcing decreases the number of American jobs and increases the level of poverty in the countries manufacturing the goods.

Yes, child labor and job outsourcing does affect you too, not just the little Indian girl who has arthritis in her hands from making rugs 12 hours per day.

Child Labor is the root cause of poverty as our world now knows it.

According to the United Nations, The elimination of child labor is an essential prerequisite to eradication of extreme poverty and hunger.

How did experts come to this conclusion? Through something they call “The Poverty Cycle.”

Child Laborers, with no money or time away from work for schooling, remain uneducated into adulthood, capable of performing only menial, low-paying tasks, a circumstance that then leads to their own children becoming child laborers to help the family, which then furthers the cycle. This is why the countries with the highest rates of child labor also have high rates of illiteracy.

It also reduces the demand for adult employment, which further suppresses the economy.

So why have children do the work when you could hire a capable adult?

Child laborers cost less to employ. Singer Jessie J was wrong when she said, “It’s not about the money.” For many that’s all it’s about. Even ask Donald Trump.

Research has shown that children are more negatively affected by labor practices than adults are. Children aren’t conditioned to withstand long hours of exhausting, tedious work. Cleaning rooms is hard enough for children, let alone making thousands of bricks in the scorching Arabian sun for 12 hours a day.

So what are the physical effects?

According to the IPEC, 22,000 child laborers die each year from accidents related to their work.

Child Laborers must adopt unnatural postures in many jobs that lead to early spinal problems such as scoliosis and kyphosis.

In the agricultural sector children often have little or no protection from harmful chemicals and substances.

Now that I have posed the seriousness of child labor, you might ask, “What are some solutions?”

Many organizations and individuals believe the long-term solution to solving the problem of child labor is education.

Nearly every child laborer has a dream, to attend school. They aren’t as lucky as you or I and weren’t given as easy an opportunity to attend school, but they can be helped.

  • Donate.

There are many organizations that provide and pay for education opportunities for unfortunate children and help stimulate the long-term economy of the communities served by schools. Some include:

Free the Children (

Build African Schools (

  • Support Fair Trade markets.

Instead of purchasing items from the mainstream markets, purchase everyday items from fair trade markets. By doing this you are buying products that weren’t produced by child labor, but were produced by adults that get good wages and work for fair and just companies

World Fair Trade Organization (

  • Sign petitions or participate in anti-Child Labor movements.

There are numerous petitions that call upon the ILO, the World Bank, and many other defining organizations to implement change to oppose child labor.

  • Bring awareness!

Tell everyone about the seriousness of child labor. Whether that be through Facebook, Youtube, e-mail, or just a friendly face to face conversation.

Show your friends and family this post and I’d bet they will be as shocked and compelled to help as you are.

I hope I have planted a seed within you to combat child labor. Hopefully that seed will grow into a tree that will shade many children from the scorching hot rays of child labor.

Child labor is a definite problem and actions must be taken to solve its devastating effect.

But that’s just my opinion.

Works Cited

Watkins, Christine. Child Labor and Sweatshops. Farmington Hills: Gale Cengage Learning, 2011. N. pag. Print.

“Nike’s Cheap Labor.” Campaign for Labor Rights. Campain for Labor Rights, 2011. Web. 11 Mar. 2012. <;.

“Child Labour, Issues Library.” Free the Children. Free the Children, n.d. Web. 11 Mar. 2012. <;.

Kristof, Nicholas D., and Sheryl WuDunn. Half the Sky. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2009. Print.

Grau, Megan. “Child Slave Labor in China.” ihs child slave labor, n.d. Web. 11 Mar. 2012. <;.

“Global March Against Child Labour: Global Petition on Child Labour and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).” NGLS. United Nations Non-Governmental Liaison Service , n.d. Web. 13 Mar. 2012. <;.

Global March. Global March, n.d. Web. 13 Mar. 2012. <;.

“Sign the Child Labour petition! Your vote counts!.” ICFTU. International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, n.d. Web. 13 Mar. 2012. <;.