Child labor found to be prevalent in the global economy

A new World Vision report finds that many children suffering the worst forms of child labor are producing goods for the world economy.

By James Addis. Photo by Alain Mwaku.
Published February 14, 2012 at 12:00am PST

The interconnected nature of our 21st century world is fueling many forms of child exploitation, a new World Vision report reveals.

Children exploited for goods sold globally

The report “Small world, big responsibility,” (pdf) was released this month by World Vision’s United Kingdom office.

It says that globalization has led to the expansion of outsourcing and increased access to products manufactured around the world.

As a result, many children suffering the worst forms of child labor are producing goods for the world economy.

At the same time, companies releasing these goods to the market are unaware or ignore the fact that exploited children are procuring raw materials or manufacturing components for their products.

Minerals in mobile phones mined by children

The report highlights the use of mobile phones, which are made from minerals such as tantalum, cassiterite, and tungsten.

It’s estimated that up to 40 percent of workers in many of the mines in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which produce these minerals, are children.

After contacting 20 mobile phone manufacturers, the report concluded that it was not always possible for companies to identify where minerals used in their products had come from.

“Mobile phone companies are unlikely to be able to say child labor is categorically not used anywhere in the process,” the report says. However, many have a “child labor avoidance” clause in their supplier codes of conduct.

Greater corporate transparency needed

The report goes on to state that companies need to take the proper steps to ensure greater transparency in their supply chains and more robust guarantees that child labor has not been used to make their products.

Meanwhile, the public needs to be informed about the practices of these companies and demand more evidence about how products they use every day have been created.  

Four ways you can help

Pray for children who are exploited for labor. Pray that they would be able to escape the practice. Pray for organizations like World Vision that seek to assist these children.

Visit Free2Work.org to see how your favorite brands relate to trafficking and other labor abuses. “Free2Work” provides consumers with information on forced and child labor for the brands and products they love.

Contact your members of Congress. Ask them to support the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA). As the cornerstone of U.S. policies to fight modern-day slavery, the TVPA must be reauthorized in order for U.S. efforts to combat trafficking to continue.

Give monthly to support children affected by exploitation. Your monthly gift will help provide interventions like safe shelter, food, health care, and trauma recovery assistance for children affected by trafficking and exploitation.