Child Labor in America

DriverThe History Place – Child Labor in America is a haunting series of photographs that depict the use of children –some as young as three– as laborers. The pictures were taken by Lewis H. Hine between 1908 and 1912. Hine traveled across the US on behalf of the National Child Labor Committee, “which was then conducting a major campaign against the exploitation of American children” and used Hine’s pictures to underline the plight of these children.

The picture here is that of a young miner, used as a driver underground. He’d been driving for a year already, and worked every day from 7am to 5:30pm.

The loss of youth is starkingly evident in the eyes and faces of these children. Today, the exploitation of children still goes on. Here are some statistics from the International Labour Organization:

  • 246 million children are child labourers.
  • 73 million working children are less than 10
    years old.
  • No country is immune: There are 2.5 million
    working children in the developed economies,
    and another 2.5 million in transition economies.
  • Every year, 22,000 children die in work-related
    accidents.
  • The largest number of working children – 127
    million – age 14 and under are in the Asia-
    Pacific region.
  • Sub-Saharan Africa has the largest proportion of
    working children: nearly one-third of children
    age 14 and under (48 million children).
  • Most children work in the informal sector,
    without legal or regulatory protection:
  • • 70% in agriculture, commercial hunting and
    fishing or forestry;
    • 8% in manufacturing;
    • 8% in wholesale and retail trade, restaurants
    and hotels;
    • 7% in community, social and personal
    service, such as domestic work.
    • 8.4 million children are trapped in slavery,
    trafficking, debt bondage, prostitution,
    pornography and other illicit activities.
    • 1.2 million of these children have been
    trafficked.

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