Around the world, some 215 million children—nearly one in seven—go to jobs or labor at home rather than attend school. American history, too, is rife with the stories of children made to work in factories and mines.
Even as one presidential candidate is making the case for a return to child labor, the story of child labor, present and past, and labor’s role in addressing it, is only half-told in the nation’s textbooks in schools.
To help teachers educate their students on the current scourge of child labor, as well as its oft-forgotten chapter in the story of America, the American Labor Studies Center (ALSC) and its AFT Child Labor Project offer a cache of teaching resources on its website, ranging from acollection of haunting early 20th century photographs by Lewis W. Hine of U.S. child workers to the latest report from the Department of Labor’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB) on efforts in 140 countries to eliminate the “worst forms” of child labor, which include, according to ALSC, “prostitution, child soldiering, and hazardous work such as working underground and with toxic wastes.”
Other links point to lesson plans from the Library of Congress on the role of children in the Industrial Revolution and the building of America and information on the AFT site about child labor in specific industries, such as this one about cocoa production.