Child Labor FAST Facts
218 million children aged 5 - 17 are involved in child labor worldwide.
Children below the age of 18 years represent between 40 to 50 percent of all forced labor victims.
More than two thirds of all child labor is in the agricultural sector. Children in rural areas begin agricultural labor as young as 5-7 years old.
126 million children work in hazardous conditions, often enduring beatings, humiliation and sexual violence by their employers.
The highest numbers of child laborers are in the Asia/Pacific region, where there are 122 million working children.
Why child labor perpetuates poverty:
1. It is a short-term fix for parents to send their children to work.
If parents have jobs, they are paid so little that they feel their children must work in order for the family to survive. However, it is child labor that actually brings down the overall average wages.
2. Parents themselves do not have jobs.
Janice Bellace observed that “Any country that has high levels of child labor also has high adult unemployment.” The reason is simple - children provide cheap labor. Why would a company employ an adult who costs more when they can put children to work and pay them substantially less?
3. People and governments believe that child labor is necessary for the survival of families.
People from the higher castes in India believe that children working to help provide for their families is actually a benefit. Many people I spoke to about the issue of child labor think they are doing a good thing by employing children to work in their homes as maids or in their businesses.
4. There is an abundance of jobs for unskilled labor and jobs requiring smaller physical features (size, agility, etc.).
Mines seek children because of their small size and factories favor employing children for shoe-making, sewing and rug weaving due to their small fingers. Young children working a full day are more likely to get hurt or killed because their attention spans are shorter and their minds wander; consequently, accidents occur.
“Child labour may be seen as a short-term solution to economic hardship, but it is actually a cause of poverty.” -- Jo Becker, Children’s Rights Advocacy Director, Human Rights Watch