Child labour

Where can I find information about child labour?

Entry last updated: 25/05/22


Putting young children to work in conditions that are usually considered unsafe or unhealthy is known as child labour. This includes work that is dangerous, illegal or prevents children from getting an education. Child labour was very common in the past. These days most societies believe child labour is wrong, but it remains a major issue in some parts of the world. This entry will give you information about child labour, including facts and statistics, the benefits and disadvantages, industries that use child labour, child labour in New Zealand and children's rights.

Facts and statistics

Did you know that when this entry was published there were about 160 million children who were child labourers? Most of them work on farms that produce consumer goods like coffee, rubber, chocolate, cocoa, and other crops. You can find other facts and statistics on these websites.

International Labour Organisation

This UN agency exists to help make sure workers around the world are safe and treated fairly. Their website has lots of information about child labour.

Tips: Websites that have .org or .net in the address can have good information, but you need to assess how reliable it is. Check the About us link on this website. That can tell you what the organisation’s mission and values are.

Our World in Data

This site provides data about how living conditions are changing around the world, and includes historical and current information about child labour.

  • Enter the keywords 'child labor' into the search bar at the top of the page.

  • Choose the page Child labor.

  • Look down the page to see graphs and diagrams.

Tips: Search words, or keywords, are the most important words in our question. Sometimes words are spelled differently in different countries, eg 'labour' or 'labor', so it can help to try both spellings. We can always change our keywords or add more if we need to.

Benefits and disadvantages

There are clearly many disadvantages associated with child labour, however some may argue that there are benefits too. The following sites provide information about the benefits and disadvantages of child labour.

Opposing Viewpoints in Context

This website is one of the EPIC resources. EPIC is a collection of reliable databases covering lots of different topics. It’s put together especially for New Zealand school students and helps to answer questions like this. It provides different points of view on social issues like child labour.

  • Enter 'child labor' into the search bar at the top of the page (this is an American site so the American spelling of 'labor' will get the best results).

  • Search results include articles that discuss how child labour can be important for developing countries, like Banning Sweatshops Only Hurts the Poor.

Global Issues in Context

This is another great site from EPIC and it has a number of articles from magazines, journals and encyclopedias about child labour, including the impact of the COVID 19 Pandemic on child labour.

Tips: To get to these EPIC resources you will need a password from your school librarian first. Or you can chat with one of our AnyQuestions librarians between 1 and 6pm Monday to Friday and they will help you online. Some EPIC databases may also be available through your public library.

Industries that use child labour

As mentioned earlier, child labour is used in many different industries around the world.

United States Bureau of International Labor Affairs

This site has an American focus as it's a United States government website. However, it contains a useful table that lists different countries and the goods they produce using child labour.

Tips: A website’s address (URL) can give you a hint about how reliable it is. Look for addresses in the results that include .gov or .edu in the URL. These are quality sites from overseas government or educational organisations.

The Guardian

This British news website has a number of current news articles that talk about different industries that use child labour, around the world.

  • Search using the keywords 'child labour industries' to find articles about child labour.

Tips: Most of the websites included in this entry contain information about industries that use child labour. If you need more information, remember to check the other websites in this entry too!

Child labour in New Zealand

Children have always worked in New Zealand. The websites below have information on the changes that have taken place to improve children's working conditions, and how New Zealand approaches the issue of child labour in countries that are trade partners.

Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Te Ara is an excellent starting point for all questions about New Zealand Aotearoa. If we scroll down to the bottom of the page we can see that the website belongs to the Ministry for Culture & Heritage, so the information is well-researched and reliable.

  • Select the tab Stories A-Z.

  • Choose the story City children and youth.

  • Go to Working children.

Australia/New Zealand Reference Centre

Australia/New Zealand Reference Centre is another EPIC resource. It has up-to-date articles from major New Zealand daily newspapers.

  • Enter "child labour" (use speech marks to search for both words as a phrase).

  • Add the words New Zealand to find articles from New Zealand newspapers.

Tips: To get to the EPIC resources you will need a password from your school librarian first. Or you can chat with one of our AnyQuestions librarians between 1 and 6pm Monday to Friday and they will help you online. Some EPIC databases may also be available through your public library.

Children's rights

Child labour can also be thought of as a human rights issue whenever children are put in dangerous or harmful situations. Most people agree that children have the right to be safe and healthy, and have access to education.

Britannica School

Another EPIC resource. This is an online encyclopedia that contains useful information on a range of topics including children's rights.

  • Select the Middle reading level.

  • Enter the keywords 'children's rights' into the search bar at the top of the page.

Tips: If the information you find is too easy or too hard, click on the numbers at the top of the page to change the reading level.


UNICEF promotes the rights and welfare of children throughout the world. This website has lots of information about children's rights and the actions UNICEF are taking to protect those rights.

  • Use the keywords 'children's rights' in the search bar at the top of the page.

  • Filter your search results by year, format, topics and locations.


There are a number of books and stories that have been written about child labour - check out your local public or school library to see what they have.

Here are some recommended titles:

SCIS no: 1832657

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