How Much Child Labor Around the World Is There?

Child labor around the world impacts 160 million children. Of that, 63 million are girls and 97 million are boys.[1] The International Labor Organization (ILO) defines this by age and by effects of the work. The age ranges from 5-17 years old. The effects are defined as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development.[2]

However, it’s estimated that these numbers are low due to industries finding ways to hide children working when the inspections occur or the authorities come. The ILO’s Labor Inspector Handbook gives examples of the types of work with children that are difficult to get to:

  • “Brick kiln workers and quarry workers
  • Carpenters, helpers and carriers at construction sites
  • Factory workers or helpers producing pottery, glass, metal products, plastic goods, jewelry etc.
  • Factory workers processing food products
  • Traditional carpet and textile weavers whether in groups of households or small workshops.
  • Cigarette makers
  • Workers in match, explosive and firework factories
  • Miners of coal and minerals
  • Work on factory ships or on fishing fleets or fishing platforms.”[3]

And yet, there are some even harder to spot:

  • “Domestic servants
  • Children working in family-based industries, such as craftwork
  • Children who assist with subsistence hunting, gathering, fishing and agriculture
  • Children involved in stealing, picking pockets, smuggling, the drug industry or pornography.
  • Sexually exploited children
  • Children held under conditions of slavery or bondage
  • Children recruited into armed groups or providing services in conditions of armed conflict.”[4]

This is why GFA World puts missionaries on the ground in countries that they are from. In these places, they can identify children who are in work situations that are dangerous and detrimental to their future growth and happiness.

When they find a child in the wrong circumstances, they can encourage the parents to enroll them into GFA’s Child Sponsorship Program. Through generous and loving gifts from people like you, GFA can help families with practical assistance like nutritious food, school fees, tutoring assistance. This help makes it more financially feasible for the family to keep their children enrolled in school, getting children out of these situations and on a road to breaking the cycle of poverty.

Be a sponsor today for just $35 a month and be the difference between hard labor and learning math, between exhaustion and excelling academically.

Learn more about child labor

[1] Child Labour: Global estimates 2020. International Labor Organization. https://www.ilo.org/ipec/ChildlabourstatisticsSIMPOC/WCMS_817699/lang–en/index.htm. Accessed October 15, 2022.
[2] “What is child labor” International Labor Organization. https://www.ilo.org/ipec/facts/lang–en/index.htm. Accessed October 15, 2022.
[3] Combating child labour: A handbook for labour inspectors. International Labor Organization. https://www.ilo.org/ipec/Informationresources/WCMS_IPEC_PUB_2619/lang–en/index.htm. 2003.
[4] Ibid.
* Cover Photo: Cassimiro, Wagner T. “Child Labour.” https://flickr.com/photos/wagnertc/4809536185/. February 5, 2010.