Is Child Labor Illegal?

To ask “is child labor illegal” is to open your heart and your mind to the millions of children facing work situations above and beyond what should ever be expected of them. The International Labor Organization defines this type of 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 work that children do falls into this category. Helping around the house or in a family business will not necessarily qualify. The distinction is when it starts to deprive the child in ways that will be difficult to recover, if not permanently hurt them.

The United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs compiled a comprehensive list of countries and industries that use children in labor.[2] Some of the industries include açaí berries, amber, bananas, bricks, carpets and many, many more. A detailed list explores the product’s origins and how children are used in the process. For example, in Pakistan, children as young as five years old are forced to work on carpets—many through bonded labor agreements. They are paid very little and are often exposed to toxic chemicals and dangerous side effects of the process.[3]

Agriculture is by far the biggest industry that uses children. Up to 71% of their workforce is children.[4] This correlates to the extremely high percentage of children from rural areas working because of their proximity to agriculture, as well as the higher rates of poverty outside of urban areas.

This is one of the many reasons GFA World works to establish its Child Sponsorship Program in as many places as possible. When GFA World missionaries are on the ground to witness children in dangerous situations like this, they are able to work with these families to enroll them into the program and become sponsored. Not only does this help get the child out of their dangerous and depriving situation, but it also helps ensure the child remains in school.

Just $35 a month from a sponsor helps accomplish this and so much more. As loving GFA program staff help the family in practical ways, this can set the child and their family on a path that will help them break free from poverty and the cycles of unhealthy and danger that often come with it. Be a sponsor today and change a child’s life.

Learn more about child labor

[1] “What is Child Labor.” International Labor Organization. https://www.ilo.org/ipec/facts/lang–en/index.htm. Accessed Oct. 15, 2022.
[2] Department of Labor. List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor. Updated https://www.dol.gov/agencies/ilab/reports/child-labor/list-of-goods-print. September 28, 2022.
[3] Ibid.
[4] “The agricultural sector accounts for the largest share of child labour worldwide.” International Labor Organization. https://www.ilo.org/ipec/ChildlabourstatisticsSIMPOC/WCMS_817701/lang–en/index.htm. Accessed Oct. 15, 2022.
* Cover Photo: Cassimiro, Wagner T. “Child Labour.” https://flickr.com/photos/wagnertc/4809536185/. February 5, 2010.