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In garment factories, brick kilns, carpet industry, brothels, farms, mines, and on fishing boats around the world, there's a dirty little secret: child labor. Children as young as four, that's right, FOUR, have been caught working!
Every year, June 12 is National Child Labor Day to shine a light on this global problem and help end it. The International Labor Organization (ILO) launched the World Day Against Child Labor in 2002 to focus attention on the global extent of child labor and the action and efforts needed to eliminate it. Each year governments, employers and workers organizations, civil society, as well as millions of people from around the world to highlight the plight of child laborers and what can be done to help them. (1)
Global efforts are making an impact. According to the International Labor Organization, the global number of children in child labor has declined by one third since 2000, from 246 million to 168 million children. That’s not nearly good enough, but it’s a start.
Every action counts. Here are 11 immediate, simple things you can do RIGHT NOW before getting up from your desk or leaving your phone!
1. Donate to Human Rights Watch today. Donations offer so much support and help put boots on the ground in the worst regions around the world.
2. Switch to Amazon Smile. By switching to Amazon Smile and picking one of the organizations fighting child labor that we mentioned, you are fighting child labor just by shopping! Smile Amazon donates 0.5% of every purchase which may not seem like much, but if you use Amazon frequently enough it can add up!
3. Sign up for “The Defender Project” by Restavek Freedom. They will email you a starter kit and quarterly action projects on how to help end child labor in the form of domestic servitude in Haiti. Consider talking to your kids about child labor by buying two of their children’s books. Each book was written by former child laborers and helps give them a voice, while teaching your children about kindness and bravery.
4. Download the Sweat & Toil app on your phone. This is a comprehensive list of products made by child labor in various countries. Knowing which products are more likely to be made by children (chocolate, coffee, carpets) you start buying fair trade with those items first.
5. Add to the Refugee Phrase Handbook. Refugees are at an especially high risk to be trafficking, and children are no exception. Some of these cases could be prevented if refugee camp workers were able to better understand the other languages. If you know another language, consider helping edit the Refugee Phrase Handbook. Phrases range from basic conversation, to medical terms. Helping edit this handbook for correctness, or even adding a new language, is simple and can also make an unforeseeable impact in refugee camps.
6. Volunteer with Thorn. Unfortunately, with the development of technology children are now able to be exploited sexually over the internet. Thorn is a company with several projects in the works fighting and preventing this exploitation. They are looking for virtual volunteers and by taking their survey to see where you can best volunteer, you can use your time and talent to fight this exploitation… all in the comfort of your bedroom.
7. Donate your Delta miles. Children working in toxic environments are often separated from their family or in desperate need of medical care. Delta is working with the Polaris Project and by donating your unused miles, the Polaris Project can use them to fly children to wherever they need to go and spent more money on rescuing children instead of travel costs!
8. Sign up for a race. Many races are all about raising money for a cause, so find one in your area that races for anti-child labor efforts or ones you can pick a charity, like Tri Du Run For Your Cause in Las Vegas. If you live in the DC area, check out the 1st Annual Freedom Happens Now 5K! You can also sign up as a virtual runner and do a 5K on your favorite running trail and still support the Polaris Project.
9. Post something on social media. The two most important powers you have against the fight against child labor is the power of knowledge and the power of a consumer. Share something on social media today about child labor, and tag a brand fighting it! Educate your friends on some better brands to start buying from that most definitely do not exploit children.
10. Check out 10 more tips from the ILO.
11. Commit to getting involved. The worst thing we can do is convince ourselves that this isn't our problem. This is everyone's problem.