Child labor refers to the work made by children in any system of production. The issue has been present in most nations around the world since the Industrial Revolution and it is more evident nowadays in poor and developing countries. Child labor is considered an abuse of the rights of children and it is condemned by most nations and international organizations. 

Which cases are child labor

Most international sources agree that the following cases are indicatingchild labor and exploitation and their likely victims:

  • Any child under 16 years of age who is performing any productive activity for the benefit of his/her household.
  • Children who are doing any kind of productive work, but do not receive any economical benefit from it.Some are forced to perform such activities.
  • Children who make any kind of work that puts in danger their life, security and mental and physical health.
  • Children who are victims of one of the following ways of exploitation:
    • Human traffic.
    • Slavery.
    • Prostitution.
    • Guerrilla recruiting.
    • Forced begging.

There are some kinds of activities performed by persons under16 that are considered light works or suitable for children, if they do not interfere in the normal development of their personality or put in risk their conditions, for example, formative works (apprentice) following cultural traditions or skill trainings from schools or any other educational institution. 

Causes of child labor 

There are many reasons to cause child labor in a country or region. The most evident ones are:

  • Social marginality and extreme poverty: The family has not economical conditions for its maintenance and forces the children to work. This cause must be prevented by the combined initiative of governments, Ngos and private sector to reduce poverty .
  • Human traffic networks: organized crime uses children as beggars and push them into prostitution.
  • Wars: Children are used by some military factions as soldiers, while other children are victim of any kind of abuse.
  • Family pressure: Parents who are absent or conflictive in their families, cause that their children look for their own economical maintenance in the streets. 


According to UNICEF, about 246 million of children are subject of labor exploitation in the world and 171 million work in dangerous conditions. The 70 percent of those child workers are into agriculture. More than 50 countries enroll soldiers younger than 18 years old for wars. 

Against Child Labor 

The United Nations and many other organizations fight against child labor in the world. In 1992 UN created the International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labor in order to prevent and fight the phenomenon.

Child labor in Cambodia 

Cambodia has been generally associated to child labor due to its high level of Social Inequality. Most of the Cambodian child workers are hired in the agricultural sector, most of them working as much as 20 hours per day without a proper salary. The main urban centers with this problem are Phnom Penh, Battambang, Siem Rieap, Sihanoukville, Poipet and Kampot. In those areas, child workers sell their households products on the markets and streets, or work in small factories and laboratories; there are also many of them begging, hired by recyclers or forced into prostitution.

The DBFC is committed to fight against child labor in Cambodia trough its different programs. The Don Bosco Children Fund intends to guarantee the return of children to the schools, while the technical centers prepare young people to have a professional skill for a future job with best opportunities.

External references 

  • Cambodia from Inside: Child labor in Cambodia, 15 June 2009.
  • International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labor.
  • IREWOC: International Research on Working Children.
  • UNICEF: The State of the World’s Children 2008.
  • Child Labor Organization.

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