Highly Vulnerable Children

Children Working While Living in Poverty

For many families across the globe asking younger children to help with chores around the house creates multiple benefits for the child. They grow in self-esteem while learning necessary life skills: how to clean their room, wash laundry, cook a meal, tend a garden.

But in impoverished communities, millions of children work simply because their survival depends on it. When a family is very poor, often young children are forced to work to provide for their own care or add to the household income. Imagine a five-year-old going to bed hungry with no hope of food tomorrow unless they work.

What is Child Labor?

The United States has several lines of defense to protect the rights of workers. For instance, the U.S. Department of Labor was set up in 1913 to promote the wellbeing of all job seekers, wage earners, and retirees. The Fair Labor Standards act of 1938 (FLSA) established minimum wage and minimum age for young workers. Our national child labor laws preserve educational opportunities and prohibit the employment of children in unsafe workplaces.

But across the globe, standards are different. The distinction of a child working and crossing the line into child labor is not as clear cut in non-Western cultures. For instance, 71% of child labor consists of agricultural work1 which includes fishing, forestry, livestock herding and aquaculture – all skills for survival.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) defines child labor as “work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development.” This includes forced labor conditions that put a child in danger of being mistreated mentally, physically, socially or morally.

The suffering of these at-risk children is global.

  • Worldwide 152 million children are victims of child labor1
  • 73 million of these work in hazardous conditions1
  • Almost half of the 152 million victims are aged 5-11 years1

Africa accounts for almost half of child labor (72.1 million), followed by 62.1 million in Asia and the Pacific; 10.7 million in the Americas; 1.2 million in the Arab States and 5.5 million in Europe and Central Asia.

Recently, many organizations have launched awareness campaigns to educate the public on the profound effects of the child labor crisis. World Day Against Child Labor was created by the ILO in 2002. Held annually on June 12, this day focuses on how to work together to eradicate child labor and fight for the rights of children.

The Reasons Behind Child Labor

“Child labor perpetuates poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, population growth, and other social problems.”

— Kailash Satyarthi

Effects of Child Labor

Girls and boys often start carrying out hazardous work at very early ages while their bodies and minds are still developing. Such labor can expose them to working with dangerous machinery or in unsafe industries like mining, construction and manufacturing. Some forms of labor expose children to dangerous materials that can shorten her/his lifespan.

Worldwide, the ILO estimates that some 22,000 children are killed at work every year.4 The numbers of those injured or made ill because of their work are not known.

When a child in poverty is also forced into labor, where is hope? How can they aspire for a better tomorrow when they have to fight to survive today?

These at-risk children need a champion.

How Can I Help a Victim of Child Labor?

At Compassion, we believe in the dignity and sanctity of each child. We believe that whether a child is working in the mines of Africa, the fields of Mexico or the factories in India, they deserve protecting.

Our Highly Vulnerable Children fund specifically targets children who are at risk of exploitation. Together we can fight for the human rights of the child by providing healthy nutrition, educational materials and a safe physical environment to learn and grow. We can help build their self-esteem and self-respect. Educate parents to stop the cycle of abuse. Encourage these little ones to refuse the lies of worthlessness. Nurture a child’s confidence in a loving God. Open greater opportunities for the future.

When you give to the Compassion fund for Highly Vulnerable Children you literally rescue a little one from child labor, abuse, exploitation, trafficking, desertion and homelessness.

Compassion works with local churches in our global communities to help these highly vulnerable children and fight for their rights. We provide foster care, trauma counseling, shelter and legal assistance.

When you give to the Highly Vulnerable Children fund you offer a lifeline of hope. Your donation will help churches partner with Compassion to intervene with life-saving aid to children who are in a battle for survival and safety.

Help stop child labor before it starts. Donate today!

Blue line icon of heartEmotional Intervention

Prayer, counseling, rehabilitation and foster care for children who are hurting.

Blue line icon of hand holding childParental Support

Support can include legal resources to find missing children, trafficking prevention awareness, and income generating opportunities so that their children aren't exploited for income.

Blue line icon of fork and plateBasic Human Needs

Medical care, nutritious food, shelter, clothing and shoes for children in immediate need.

Give With Confidence

With Compassion, your donation is used wisely to help children around the world.

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Have Questions About Compassion and How We Work?

Donating to a charity is an important decision. So when you’re passionate about a cause and want to make a difference, we encourage you to do your research. Compassion is 100% committed to financial integrity, stewardship and using each dollar wisely. If you have any questions about Compassion or exactly how your donation will be used, please don’t hesitate to contact us.


Please call us at 800-336-7676, Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. MT, to speak with a Compassion representative.


1 “World Day Against Child Labor 12 June” United Nations, www.un.org/en/observances/world-day-against-child-labour.

2 “Child Labor.” Unicef, www.data.unicef.org/topic/child-protection/child-labour.

3 “Causes.” International Labour Organization, www.ilo.org/moscow/areas-of-work/child-labour/WCMS_248984/lang--en/index.htm.

4 “Hazardous Child Labour.” International Labour Organization, www.ilo.org/ipec/facts/WorstFormsofChildLabour/Hazardouschildlabour/lang--en/index.htm.