Child labour is work that harms children or keeps them from attending school. Around the world growing gaps between rich and poor in recent decades have forced millions of young children out of school and into work.

The International Labor Organisation estimates that 215 million children between the ages of 5 and 17 currently work under conditions that are considered illegal, hazardous or extremely exploitative.

Underage children work in all sorts of jobs around the world, usually because they and their families are extremely poor. Large numbers of children work in commercial agriculture, fishing, manufacturing, mining, and domestic service. Some children work in illicit activities like the drug trade and prostitution or other traumatic activities such as serving as soldiers.

Child labor involves at least one of the following characteristics:
– Violates a nation’s minimum age laws
– Threatens children’s physical, mental, or emotional well-being
– Involves intolerable abuse, such as child slavery, child trafficking, child marriage, debt bondage, forced labour or illicit activities
– Prevents children from going to school
– Uses children to undermine labour standards

If you think a child is being used in any of the ways above contact the police on 999, or call the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000, without delay. If you are worried about a child, but unsure, please contact the NSPCC helpline and discuss your concerns with trained counsellors. The counsellors will assess the information you give them and can take action on your behalf, if necessary. Alternatively, you can contact your local police or children’s services.

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