Few things evoke such antipathy and condemnation from the western world than the idea of children toiling away for low pay in dangerous conditions. And while there are cases of child labor which truly warrant our concern, the broader truth is a bit more complicated.
In Jan 2016, an open letter was signed by over 50 experts in child welfare and development from around the world. The letter, addressed to the U.N., expressed the seemingly controversial opinion that the agency's efforts to curb child labor were in fact harming the very children it sought to protect.
This hour, we speak with experts about the history of child labor and hear why it may not be the right target for human rights or labor reform efforts.
- James Schmidt - Associate Professor of History at Northern Illinois University and author of Industrial Violence and the Legal Origins of Child Labor
- Kimberly Mehlman-Orozco - Research scientist and expert in human trafficking; author of several books including Hidden In Plain Sight: America’s Slaves of the New Millennium
- Benjamin Powell - Senior fellow at The Independent Institute, Director of the Free Market Institute, and a professor of economics at Texas Tech University; author of Out of Poverty: Sweatshops in the Global Economy
Colin McEnroe and Chion Wolf contributed to this show.