Of the 250 million child laborers worldwide, it is estimated that at least half of them work in agriculture alone. There are many different types of agricultural work. One of them is picking fruits and vegetables. The work is physically demanding because the children must bend down, kneel, climb ladders, carry heavy loads of fruit, and other things. Among these chores, child laborers may also weed and cultivate soil, fix irrigation canals, and apply dangerous pesticides. They also are exposed to dangerous tools and have to use unsafe machinery they don't know how to operate. Children working in agriculture may also be forced to harvest tobacco, sugar cane, and other crops where they will be exposed to equally harmful conditions. Children who work in agriculture often experience back pain from bending over so much, and also have blistered and calused hands from operating machinery and using tools such as rakes, hoes, and shovels all day long. Back to Top
Large numbers of girls and boys are trafficked yearly to other parts of the world for the sole purpose of being sex slaves (they are slaves, not prostitutes). These children are often killed by AIDS or other sexually transmitted diseases. Many of these children are also used for child pornography. Back to Top
There are many children who live near a garbage dump and, since their families are unable to support them, they are forced to go into the dump and search for something to sell. The children would collect the materials and recycle them for a small amount of money. The children are usually at high risk for many different things, since they are being constantly exposed to harmful gasses that come out of decomposing trash. They also may very easily cut their feet when walking on the trash piles full of glass and sharp objects since many of them cannot afford proper footwear. Sometimes a fence or wall is put around the trash dump to try to keep the children out, but since they often cannot survive without collecting garbage, they will try to find other ways of getting into the dump, such as cutting a hole in the fence or climbing over it, which puts them at an even greater risk. Back to Top
Domestic service is by far the most common line of work for female child laborers, but boys can be domestic servants also. Domestic servants are basically children who work at a family's home and perform their common household tasks, such as caring for small children, cooking, cleaning the house and handling cleaning chemicals, using sharp kitchen utensils, and lifting heavy items. These children undergo immense physical stress, making them subject to accidents while carrying out even the simplest of tasks. Sometimes the child's employer and their family members physically abuse the child. They are thrown into a cycle of violence until they are "sold" to the next family. Back to Top
As stated in the "Why Does Child Labor Occur?" section, the most common cause of child labor is poverty. The family cannot support their children, and so they are forced to work. If the child's home is in a state of war, then sometimes the child will be "sold" to that country's army. The child will then be forced to fight in that nation's battles, which is one of the most emotionally scarring things you can do to someone. The children, ranging from ages 8 to 18, are forced to kill. They have to handle very dangerous objects such as knives, pistols, rifles, grenades, and whatever else the army is able to use. Most of the time, the family is unable to "buy" their child back, so the child is forced to serve in the armed forces for a long, long time. Right now, there are an estimated 200,000 child soldiers in the world, in palces like Colombia and Africa, where civil unrest often leads to violent clashes. Back to Top
Sometimes, children are forced to work in industrial situations such as sweatshops, factories, and other mass production buildings. Many times, local business owners will offer positions as "apprentices" and offer some pay to the child. The parent will most likely be less than thrilled, but their decision is greatly overshadowed by their immense poverty. The child would then start their work as apprentice weavers, carpenters, or other things. The local business owners may also force the children to do tedious tasks such as make paper cups for hours on end. For a big business, such as Nike, (see the information on child labor in Pakistan), they will hire a local contracting firm, and the firm will hire the children. The children are forced to make the big business's products, such as soccer balls, shoes, and clothing. Back to Top
One of the most dangerous jobs at which exploited child laborers work at is mining.
Child miners work in many types of mines, including gold, emeralds, coal, tin, iron, silver, and chrome mines. They work all over the world, from the gold mines of Cote D’Ivoire in Africa to the Madre de Dios region mines in Peru. Miners also work in countries such as Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Bolivia, and many parts of Africa (such as Zimbabwe).
Child laborers in mining are faced with a number of dangers. Poorly kept mines can sometimes collapse, trapping and possibly injuring children. Disease also spreads very fast in mining areas. Also, may child laborers working in mines miss out on a valuable education. Mines in countries in these countries where child laborers work are generally poorly kept because regulation on mines in theses areas are very loose (this is partly why there is child labor in these sectors).
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Many child laborers are forced to do other kinds of work than just those listed above. For example, a girl named Aminata from Gabon in Africa at one point sold cakes on the street. Other children sell goods such as food, drink, and clothing. Some children also perform services for others and beg for change. A common example of this is children getting on a train and sweeping under passenger's feet. They would then get off the train and walk in the opposite direction. You can read about one of these children, named Bapi, in our "Child Laborers" section.