Child Labor Facts and Statistics

From the Sweat of our Children


Hours of child labor

In the world, this year

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TheWorldCounts, 24 April, 2014

From the Sweat of our Children

It’s heartbreaking to think that in this age of technology and communications, where we know everything that’s happening in the farthest corner of the world, child labor is still allowed to exist. 

This is one of the biggest roadblock to human rights worldwide.

Child labor is defined by the International Labour Organisation as “work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development.” 

That sums it up right there. In an ideal world, our children, our future generation, should be given the opportunity to have a childhood and develop their abilities in a positive environment. 

Not working in factories or in the fields, without pay, in less than human conditions.

Poverty and lack of schools are considered as the main cause of Child Labor.

What are the current laws on Child Labor?

The international Labour Organisation has set an international law on child labor that was signed and ratified by most countries. In 1990, the United Nations adopted the Convention on the Rights of a Child which was ratified by 193 countries.

A child is defined as  every human being below the age of 18 years, unless under the law applied to the child, majority is attained earlier.

In 1999, the ILO led the Worst Forms Convention, signed by 151 countries, which prohibits the worst forms of child labor such as: 

  • Debt Bondage
  • Child Trafficking
  • All forms of Slavery or Slavery-like practices
  • Forced Recruitment of Children in Armed Conflict
  • Prostitution
  • Production of Pornography
  • Drug Production and Trafficking
  • Any Hazardous Work

The Current State of Child Labor

Below are child labor statistics and facts that might come as a surprise to you:

  • More than 200 million children today are child labourers. An estimated 120 million are engaged in hazardous work.
  • 73 million of these children are below 10 years old.
  • The highest number of child laborers is in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • The number of children in armed conflicts have risen to 300,000 over the past decade.
  • Most children work on farms that produce consumer products such as cocoa, coffee, cotton, rubber and other crops.
  • 20 million child workers are employed in factories that make garments, carpets, toys, matches and hand-rolled cigarettes.

More: Modern Day Slavery Statistics

Effecting Change: Being Aware as a Consumer

As the world became more aware and horrified by the prevalence of Child Labor, the number of child laborers worldwide has dropped from 245 million to 168 million between 2000 and 2012. It’s good news but not good enough.

Companies who employ child laborers need to stop, and we can force them to stop by not buying their products. Chocolate, for example, is a booming business worldwide. What is the need to resort to child labor if not for higher profit margins? It’s barbaric and greedy. 

It is hard to raise the awareness of people regarding child labor, unless you see it for yourselves. There are many facts and videos about child labor in the Internet, we encourage you to watch and increase your awareness.

Fair trade products are produced without the use of child labor. Buy them instead and encourage the efforts and initiatives of certain companies. When buying carpets, look for the “Rugmark” which signifies that the carpet was not made by children.  

There are actually applications that help consumers identify and browse companies and how they scored on labor policies. You can check out the site here.

When we buy products that we know are produced from child labor, we become willing participants to this abhorrent practice. It’s a hard truth, but we must all accept responsibility.


  1. Wiki Answers: What are Facts About Child Labour
  2. Wikipedia: Child Labour
  3. The Borgen Project: 10 Child Labor Facts
  4. Anti-Slavery Society: Fighting Slavery as a Consumer
  5. Anti-Slavery Society – Consumer Awareness

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