Child Labor Shows Disturbing Trends

215M Still Working, More Than Half in Hazardous Conditions

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GENEVA, Switzerland, MAY 12, 2010 ( Though there is a declining number of children being forced to work, the trend over the last decade shows the rate of that decline is slowing.

According to the latest report from the International Labor Organization (ILO), covered as well by L’Osservatore Romano, there are still today more than 215 million children working, often in agriculture.

More than half of them — 115 million — are employed in activities that the ILO describes as dangerous, although not reaching forms of slavery, per se.

Between 2004 and 2008 the number of child laborers decreased from 222 million to 215 million, with a drop of just 3%, whereas between 2000 and 2004 the number decreased by 10%.
For some age ranges, the struggle against child labor during those years actually went into regression. In the age range between 15 and 17, there was an increase of 20%, from 52 million to 62 million child workers.
The greatest progress was made in the age range between 5 and 14 years, with a significant reduction of 10%. The number of children in this age in hazardous work decreased by 31%.
The worst situations are found in Sub-Saharan Africa, where one child out of four is obliged to work, often in dangerous situations.

“Progress is uneven: neither fast enough nor comprehensive enough to reach the goals that we have set,” said ILO Director-General Juan Somavia. “New and large-scale efforts are needed. The situation calls for a re-energized campaign against child labour. We must scale up action and move into a higher gear.”

The director added that the economic downturn should not be an «excuse for diminished ambition and inaction.»

«Instead,» he said, «it offers the opportunity to implement the policy measures that work for people, for recovery and for sustainable development.”

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