Child Labor

Is Child Labor a Human Rights Abuse?

“We are the Present, Our Voice Is the Future!”

A quote from Children’s World Congress on Child Labor.

What is Child Labor?

Child labor is the use of children in any industry or business, especially when its illegal or considered inhumane. They are mainly used for commercial use.

Background Information

Child labor was really common in the past, such as United Kingdom, where they began to hire children to work for lower wages than adults. The employers had hired the children because they weren't as likely to cause many labor problems. This deprives the children of a proper education, where they are only capable of unskilled labor, giving them little chance to better themselves. Some children were required to do tasks that needed adult strength, and sometimes the lighting was too dim. These children worked to help their unemployed families. Later, orphans were pressed into the mix and the United States had gained similar conditions in the late 1700's. The boys or girls as young as 6 years old, could work for 12 to 16 hours, and were beaten by the employers if they slept on the job. It was normal to work with their parents, to help produce food, tend animals, and other tasks. During the Industrial Revolution, the children were put up to risky tasks, including dangerous machinery, climbing, and sweeping tight mine tunnels with little to no protective gear on.


  • Child labor is very essential in developing countries
  • Some kids work to help families that are in poverty
  • Gives the children constructive learning from different tasks
  • Could get them ready for their future
  • Helps developing countries on their way to a stable government


  • Dangerous
  • Deprives right to an education
  • Most don’t know how to read or write
  • Unhealthy
  • Can be abusive
  • Children losing faith in governments
  • Empty promises never filled
  • Different ways are Agriculture, Fishing, Mining and Quarrying, Manufacturing, Services/Domestic Servants

Dangers in Detail

  • Sharp, unwieldy tools
  • bites from insects, snakes
  • exposure to toxic substances
  • spend long hours in water
  • without protective gear
  • drowning possibility
  • skin diseases
  • shark attacks
Mining and Quarrying
  • Mainly suffer from injuries and illnesses


  • dangerous, unsupervised machinery
  • long ours
  • lack of protective gear
  • intense heat
  • poor lighting
  • bad ventilation
  • loud noises
  • exposure to toxic substances
  • soccer ball industry requires 650 stitches through heavy leather causes intense pressure on finger joints
  • rug weaving exposes to dusts and fiber in the air causes lung damage
  • can expose children to harmful chemicals, dangerous machinery, and unheated or unventilated work areas
Services/Domestic Servants
  • Long work hours
  • Low pay
  • Few days off
  • Harsh treatment from employers
  • domestic servants, mainly girls, at high risk of abuse
  • sent to live in other homes to do chores
  • chores include cleaning, laundry, and cooking
  • Often because families cannot afford to support kids
  • receive minimal food and shelter
  • often work for no wages

Why do the Children Work?

  • Aren’t necessarily forced into it
  • Children want to help families by working to support them
  • Some cannot read or right, believe employers can teach them
  • Employers can provide food and shelter

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Extra Information

National Child Labor Committee

  • Formed 1904 in US
  • Mission was to ban child labor
  • Was unsuccessful
  • Another attempt in 1924
  • Goal was to pass constitutional amendment
  • Was the national child labor law
  • Was unsuccessful again

Britain’s Factory Act of 1802

  • Ages 9 – 13 work no more than 8 hours a day
  • Ages 14 – 18 work no more than 12 hours a day

The Convention on the Rights of the Child

  • Guarantees children’s right to education
  • Secondary right must be available to all
  • Guarantees children rights to be protected from being kept from rightful education

Fair Labor Standards Act

  • 1938 congress passed
  • Prohibited “oppressive child labor”


  • Result of poverty
  • Persists, employers benefit with hiring kids instead of adults
  • Have no power or autonomy, good for employers
  • No position to complain about low wages/unfair conditions

The World Health Organization

  • Estimates 1/8 kids engaged in labor is employed in most hazardous work
  • Agriculture exposed to chemicals, heavy loads, and highest rates of injury
  • Girls at larger risk from size


“they are deprived of the most basic rights—the right to be cared for by their parents, the right to play, the right to express themselves and the right to be free from physical and sexual abuse." - Official in Haiti

  • Estimated 2007 some 173,000 kids in Haiti worked as domestic servants

ILO Statistics

  • Majority in agriculture, fishing, forestry, hunting 61%
  • Manufacturing 8%
  • Retail and trade 7%
  • Transport, storage, communications 4%
  • Construction 2%
  • Mining and Quarrying 1%

Is Child Labor a Human Rights Abuse?

After all my research, my answer is yes. This is because the employers are taking away the rights that the children have, such as their right for education. They also abuse the children, and they aren’t fair with the payment. Even if they slack off a little, such as sleeping since they work most of the day away, their employers could beat them. On the other hand, I do think that child labor may be necessary in developing countries. This is because the kids don't always work for themselves, or are forced into the job, but some choose to go into this. They realize their families are in poverty, since the government is unstable, and their parents are without a job, and they want to help out. This is actually a good thing, because it shows how much the children actually care about their families, and it can provide them with food and shelter. It can also save lives, such as if there is younger kids in the family, or elderly people in the family. I believe child labor would be okay, under certain circumstances. These include:

Less Work Hours

  • Helps children get proper sleep
  • Cuts down on slacking
  • Possibly cuts down on abuse
No Abuse

  • Keeps children safe and healthy
Work that fits them

  • Shouldn't work with dangerous machinery
  • Shouldn't work with chemicals
  • Safe, clean enviorments
These are children, and they are our future. We need them to continue growing, and to expand our knowledge.


Works Cited

  • "Afghan Children Work At A Blacksmith In Kabul." UPI Photo Collection. 2009. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 15 Dec. 2015.
  • Brody, David. "Child Labor." World Book Student. World Book, 2015. Web. 9 Dec. 2015.
  • "Child Labor in India." Gale Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Detroit: Gale, 2010. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 11 Dec. 2015.
  • Child Labor. Photography. Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest. Web. 11 Dec 2015.
  • "Child Labor." Opposing Viewpoints Online Collection. Detroit: Gale, 2014. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 9 Dec. 2015.
  • Children's World Congress on Child Labour. "An International Declaration Against Child Exploitation."Children's Declaration. Children's World Congress on Child Labour, 2004. Rpt. In Child Labor and Sweatshops. Ed. Ann Manheimer. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2006. At Issue. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 9 Dec. 2015.
  • "Labor Force Status of Children 15-17 Years Old, by Family Income, March 2002." Growing Up: Issues Affecting America's Youth. Melissa J. Doak. 2007 Ed. Detroit: Gale, 2007. Information Plus Reference Series. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 15 Dec. 2015.
  • Tierney, John J. "Abusive Child Labor Is a Problem in Developing Nations." Developing Nations. Ed. Berna Miller and James D. Torr. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2003. Current Controversies. Rpt. from "The World of Child Labor." World & I (Aug. 2000). Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 9 Dec. 2015.
  • Tierney, John J. "Regulated Child Labor Is Necessary in Developing Countries." Child Labor and Sweatshops. Ed. Ann Manheimer. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2006. At Issue. Rpt. from "The World of Child Labor." The World & I Online. Vol. 15. 2000. 54. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 8 Dec. 2015.
  • Watch, Human Rights. "Governments Must Protect Child Domestic Workers from Abuse." Child Labor and Sweatshops. Ed. Ann Manheimer. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2006. At Issue. Rpt. from "Child Domestics: The World's Invisible Workers." Human Rights Watch Backgrounder. Human Rights Watch, 2004. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 9 Dec. 2015.