Child labor
3:52:49 2023-09-26 182

About 160 million children around the world are engaged in child labor, working in jobs that deprive them of their childhood, interfere with schooling, or harm their mental, physical, or social development. Nearly half of them — 79 million children — work under hazardous conditions. By definition, child labor is a violation of both child protection and rights.

June 12 is the United Nations-sanctioned World Day Against child labor, a time to remember the young workers who have been robbed of their childhood, education, and the future they deserve.

Fast facts: Child labor

  • In 2020, 63 million girls and 97 million boys were in child labor, accounting for about 1 in 10 kids worldwide.
  • About 70% of these children — 112 million — work in agriculture, mostly farming and livestock herding.
  • Across all age groups, boys are more likely to work than girls.
  • 1 in 3 children in child labor are out of school.
  • 86.6 million children are engaged in child labor in sub-Saharan Africa, followed by central and southern Asia with 26.3 million.
  • Numbers are rising, particularly in the 5- to 11-year-old group, and the coronavirus pandemic threatens to reverse years of progress.


What is the definition of child labor?

Child labor is the exploitation of children who are deprived of their childhood by work that prevents them from attending school or causes physical, mental, or social harm. Children are especially vulnerable to injuries in their early developmental years, even though physical and mental health problems may not be evident for years.

Where is it a problem?

Child labor is concentrated in the world's poorest countries. It is also common in the most dangerous places where insecurity or armed conflict exist. Sub-Saharan Africa has 86.6 million child laborers, more than anywhere else.

Family poverty and ill-equipped schools are two major reasons children in low- income countries are in the labor force. However, it isn't confined to low-income countries. To some degree, it's a problem in all countries: More than half of all child laborers live in middle-income countries.

What is a primary driver?

Poverty is the primary reason children are sent to work. Sadly, child labor keeps kids from getting the education they need to break the cycle of poverty. According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), a U.N. agency, about 70% of child laborers work in agriculture. Others work long hours in factories, domestic service, or forced labor, such as child soldiers and children exploited in the commercial sex trade.

What are the worst forms of child labor?

The ILO’s Convention No. 182 defines hazardous and morally damaging forms of labor and calls for their immediate and total elimination. Worldwide, the ILO estimates that 22,000 child laborers are killed at work each year. As defined by the convention, the worst forms of this include:

  • Slavery or similar practices
  • Child trafficking
  • Forced recruitment into armed conflict
  • Prostitution and pornography
  • Drug production and trafficking or other illegal acts
  • Debt bondage
  • Hazardous work that can cause injury or moral corruption


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