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Bureau of International Labor Affairs
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Child Labor

Child labor is work that interferes with the physical and mental development of children. This work also often interferes with children's opportunities to attend school fully or requires them to dropout of school entirely. There are still 168 million children working worldwide, 85 million in hazardous work. ILO Convention 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labor calls on the global community, as a matter of urgency, to eradicate the use of children under 18 years of age in all forms of slavery, commercial sexual exploitation, illicit activities, and hazardous work that is likely to harm their health, safety or morals.


Our Strategy

The Bureau of International Labor Affairs has been working to eliminate the worst forms of child labor since 1993 through research, policy engagement and technical cooperation.

We have published over 30 Congressionally-mandated reports, including the Department Labor's Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor and a public list of goods from countries we have reason to believe are produced by child labor or forced labor. This research has informed our policy and program design to end child labor. We have funded more than 270 projects to combat child labor in over 90 countries and worked with more than 60 organizations.

In addition to working directly with children and families to provide education or financial assistance, we work with countries at the national, district and community levels to strengthen systems and services required to address child labor. Our projects have trained labor inspectors and law enforcement officials on child labor law enforcement. They have also developed community-based, child labor monitoring systems in the supply chains of key sectors.

Objectives

  • Expand global knowledge on child labor, including how to better tackle the problem.
  • Strengthen laws, law enforcement, coordination among government bodies, policies, and programs related to child labor, including social protection and education.
  • Improve awareness of the importance of education for all children.
  • Increase mobilization of a wide array of stakeholders who improve and expand economic and education opportunities for children and families.
  • Increase numbers of children in school who no longer work in exploitative child labor.