What Does Child Labor Mean?
It may be a common term, but what does child labor mean? What are the markers of child labor? The International Labor Organization (ILO) defines child labor as “work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development.”1
Not all child labor is negative though. The ILO recognizes that tasks like chores around the house are just fine:
“Assisting in a family business or earning pocket money outside school hours and during school holidays” can “contribute to children’s development” “provide them with skills and experience, and help prepare them to be productive members of society during their adult life.”2 These activities are not considered child labor.
Children ages 5 to 11 comprise up to half of all forced child labor.
More than 134 million children involved in forced labor are in Africa, Asia and the Pacific. Though these are just estimates. It’s difficult to accurately count these numbers because child labor is often hidden to avoid legal consequences or other repercussions. The census data often only includes children who are part of families. Many children in child labor, such as orphans and children living on the streets, are not counted in the data. Therefore, it’s often assumed that the actual numbers are likely quite higher than statistics indicate.
One way child labor can be categorized is the following:
- First, there are the worst forms of child labor—slavery, trafficking, debt bondage, armed conflict, prostitution, pornography, illicit activities, and so on.
- Second is labor performed by kids who are under a minimum age for the specific kind of work they are doing. This is determined by international standards.
- The third category is labor that is hazardous or jeopardizes the well-being of a child due to the conditions of the environment or the nature of the work.
GFA World is creating positive alternatives in the poorest of communities that decrease the likelihood of child labor by giving families other options to provide for their children. When the financial pressure of providing education, nutritious food and other supplies is alleviated, the temptation of child labor is often removed.
Learn more about what we’re doing to combat this international problem here. You can join us in our efforts by sponsoring a child through our child sponsorship program. Together, we can help children in underserved communities and provide hope where it is needed most.
1 “What is child labour.” International Labour Organization. https://www.ilo.org/ipec/facts/lang–en/index.htm. February 2019.
2 “What is child labour.” International Labour Organization. https://www.ilo.org/ipec/facts/lang–en/index.htm. February 2019.