Child Labor Examples

The Child Labor Coalition estimates 218 million children, some as young as 5 years old, are in child labor with at least 152 million of those in forced child labor.1 There are many child labor examples in various workforces, including the fishing, fashion and mining industries.

Below are a few examples of child labor from these industries:


Fishing Industry

James Kofi Annan is an escapee of child labor from the fishing industry.2 His parents had 12 children, none of them educated. As the youngest, James eventually became the last one his father could control. His siblings were already working when his father gave James away to do manual labor on a fishing boat. At the time, he was only 6 years old.

James said,

“I was first trafficked with five other children. Out of the six of us, three lived, and three did not. I saw many children die from either abuse or the rigorous work they were obliged to do.”

James worked long, physically-demanding hours catching fish from 3 a.m. to 8 p.m.

James recalled,

“I was usually fed once a day and would regularly contract painful diseases which were never treated as I was denied access to medical care. If I asked for even the smallest concession from my boss, I was beaten. Despite all my hard work, I was often not allowed to sleep because I had to take care of all the other tasks, such as mending nets and cleaning fish.”

James’ mother never stopped begging for his release and trying to get him back.

After years of suffering in slavery, James escaped at age 13. He enrolled himself in school because he longed for an education. He was far behind his classmates, but he was motivated to learn. After a few years, he was one of the few students chosen to enter college and he later became a banker. James now runs a program that provides rescue and resources for children in Ghana who have been enslaved or put into other high-risk situations.

Fashion Industry

Bithi lives in Bangladesh, where she began working in a garment factory at the age of 12.4 She spends her days sewing blue jeans, making 60 pockets per hour. She’s required to make 480 pockets every 8-hour shift. Bithi was sent to work in the factory because her sick father was unable to provide for the family. They had no food, not even rice. Bithi makes $1.00 per day in wages.

Bithi used to dream of getting an education and becoming a doctor. That dream is no more. Her family’s plan for Bithi is to wed soon, and a man has expressed interest.

Mining Industry

Lukasa works 12-hour days in the mining industry of the Democratic Republic of Congo.5 He lives at home, but walks two hours each morning to a government-run mining site. He works for 8 hours chipping away at rock in a cobalt mine. Then he carries the cobalt out of the mine and hikes for an hour to a trading depot. On a good day, he earns $9. He walks home, sleeps and returns the next day to start again.

What can be done to help?


As we read these child labor examples, it is heartbreaking to know that millions of children are currently in similar situations. Over half of the child labor force is found in Africa, Asia and the Pacific.6 GFA World has been working in Asia since 1979 and has recently started serving impoverished areas of Africa as well.

GFA World helps to end child labor in the following ways:

  • Prevention through SponsorshipChild sponsorship relieves financial pressure from families who are suffering in poverty. A sponsored child receives essential resources such as nutritious food, schools supplies, tutoring, access to clean water, medical check-ups and more. When these items are provided for families, it relieves their financial pressure and helps parents better care for their children. Often, this help enables children to stay in school instead of being sent off to work.
  • Prevention through a Change of Mindset – GFA World is helping change the mindset of communities regarding child marriage, child labor, child education and more. As you read in the child labor examples above, the acceptance of child labor is often a mindset that needs to be reset. As these cultural mindsets change, parents learn the importance of education in breaking the cycle of poverty that has often plagued them for many generations.
  • Prevention through Trusted Adults – When children have caring adults looking out for them, they are missed if they disappear. GFA World works through local churches to help keep a watchful eye on the children who attend. Children in GFA World’s Child Sponsorship Program also have the benefit of caring adults watching over them. These leaders understand child labor history in their communities and are knowledgeable about the solutions.
  • Prevention through Training – A helpful way to curb child labor is to train children how to respond to situations that may make them vulnerable, such as adults who offer them work opportunities or try to lure them into being trafficked.

Will you join us in funding these child labor solutions?

Learn more about causes of child labor

1 Maki, Reid. “10 Basic Facts about Child Labor.” The Child Labor Coalition. 16 July 2018. https://stopchildlabor.org/the-basic-facts-about-child-labor-globally-from-the-ilo/.
2 “Annan, James.” End Slavery Now. Jan 5, 2015. https://www.endslaverynow.org/blog/articles/james-annan.
3 Challenging Heights. https://www.challengingheights.org/.
4 “A Look at Child Labor Inside a Garment Factory in Bangladesh.” World Vision. Accessed February 9, 2022. https://www.worldvision.org/child-protection-news-stories/child-labor-garment-factory-bangladesh.
5 Walt, Vivienne. “Blood, Sweat, and Batteries.” Fortune. 23 August 2018. https://fortune.com/longform/blood-sweat-and-batteries/.
6 Maki, Reid. “10 Basic Facts about Child Labor.” The Child Labor Coalition. 16 July 2018. https://stopchildlabor.org/the-basic-facts-about-child-labor-globally-from-the-ilo/.
* ILO Asia-Pacific. Flickr. https://flickr.com/photos/iloasiapacific/8762242147/. (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)