Protecting children and other vulnerable workers has been a goal of United States policy for many years. Regardless of where they live, no family should have to depend on the labor of its children to put a roof over its head or food on the table. Nor should anyone be forced to work under debt bondage or in captivity.
To better understand the problem, the U.S. produces several reports that assess labor conditions around the world. The reports are tools to raise awareness and hopefully motivate governments, the private sector and concerned citizens to take action to end such abuses.
One survey lists the worst forms of child labor in countries that receive preferential trade access to the U.S. This report highlights each government’s efforts to address this problem and lays out suggestions for additional government action. There is also an accounting of goods believed to be produced with forced labor or child labor.
In the latest list, researchers added goods produced with child labor or forced labor in 12 new countries, for a total of 128 goods from 70 nations, ranging from shrimp processed in Thailand to cocoa harvested in West Africa.
Our commitment to eradicating child and forced labor does not end with reporting. The U.S. provides significant funding to help other nations combat exploitive child labor. In 2010, the Labor Department awarded grants totaling $60 million to 14 countries to help families improve their livelihoods so parents can meet basic needs without relying on child labor; to offer children greater access to educational and training alternatives; and to help foreign government agencies sustain their efforts to eliminate exploitive child labor.
A nation cannot achieve prosperity on the backs of its children. True prosperity comes from fully developing a country's greatest resource, its people.