Poverty is a debilitating barrier; it prevents families all over the world from owning property, accessing education, and ultimately earning living wages. As a result, children feel the effects—and the consequences are devastating. According to UNICEF, in the world’s poorest countries, more than 25% of kids are engaged in child labor, leading to lost opportunities and an ongoing cycle of poverty.
Child labor is defined as “work that is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to children” and/or “work that interferes with kids’ schooling by: depriving them of the opportunity to attend school; obliging them to leave school prematurely; or requiring them to attempt to combine school attendance with excessively long and heavy work.”
Children who must work in order to support themselves and their families miss out on critical milestones of childhood. Consider the opportunities afforded to most kids in the United States. From library story times to introductory sports camps, there is no shortage of interests and passions for kids to discover—and these interests often turn into long-term hobbies, possibly even resulting in scholarships or career paths. In contrast, kids forced into child labor have no such experiences.
Because of poverty’s cyclical nature, children involved in unjust labor when they are young are unlikely to break free later. In fact, these kids have some of the highest illiteracy rates in the entire world. In a report entitled Child Labor and Educational Disadvantage—Breaking the Link, Building Opportunity, former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown says, “Because children who face restricted opportunities for education will receive lower wages as adults, child labor is one of the most powerful motors transmitting poverty across generations.”
To end child labor, we must be committed to breaking the motor—and the best way to do that is to create profitable, sustainable alternatives. At Forgotten Children, we consider self-sustainability to be one of our core pillars; we’re committed to creating opportunities for families across the globe to generate incomes that will break the cycle of poverty and empower kids to get the education they deserve.
Through agricultural initiatives, transportation jobs, vocational training, and microfinance loans, our partners in various countries are revolutionizing their communities and creating better outcomes for local families. Want to be part of the change? Join our support team today.