Child Labor

Is Child Labor Illegal?

Before we can discuss “is child labor illegal”, it is important to understand what child labor is and what it is not. Child labor is work that deprives a child of their potential and their dignity.[1] It is harmful to their development—both physical and developmental. This does not include chores around the house or assisting in a family business or working during breaks from school.

A key characteristic is that child labor should not keep a child from attending school.[2]

Illegal forms of child labor include slavery, debt bondage, recruitment into armed conflicts, forced labor and trafficking. Included also are child prostitution or pornography. Child labor is often hazardous work in which a child cannot leave.

How does a child become involved in child labor?

  • Oftentimes, child labor is seen as a solution to extreme poverty. Families are simply trying to survive and feel their children would have a better chance at survival if they were working.
  • Parents are often promised exceptional opportunities for their kids—education, regular meals, and income to send home to the family. Since parents want the best for their kids, they jump on these opportunities. Unfortunately, many times these are empty promises. Most often, children are forced to work in dangerous environments and not given the opportunities they were promised.
  • Kidnapping is another form of recruitment, especially among orphans, refugees, and street children. These children and parents don’t sign up or agree to these arrangements. Children are taken against their will and parents may never see them again.

What is the solution?

GFA World is providing positive alternatives, so families are less likely to resort to child labor. Through child sponsorship, families are given helpful resources like access to clean water, educational tutoring, school supplies, and more. Perhaps the most helpful resource is nutritious meals. When a family has fewer mouths to feed, it relieves a lot of financial burden from the parents. They are less likely to consider child labor and instead keep their children in school.

Parents and children also learn how to avoid predators by being safe while in public. They also learn the tactics that predators use to lure children and the empty promises they give to parents. When parents and children are educated in this topic, they are less likely to be lured into child labor.

Learn more about child labor and what GFA is doing to combat this issue.

[1] “What is child labor?” International Labor Organization.–en/index.htm. February 2019.
[2] Ibid.