Think before you bite into that piece of chocolate

How many people know about this?

I’m careful about condemning child labor, because if the alternative is starvation, condemning child labor would just be “piling heavy burdens on people without lifting a finger to help them.” Child labor was abolished in Europe and North America by developing machines to replace children, and thereby enable adults to earn enough that their children didn’t have to work and could go to school. Boycotting goods produced by slaves is appropriate, but boycotting goods produced by children who have freely hired themselves out may well make their situation worse, for children resort to hiring themselves out because they are orphans or because their parents can’t support them. In some cases, this could be because of malice on the part of employers, preferring to hire children rather than adults so they can pay them less, and therefore child labor persists while adult unemployment is widespread. In other cases, it is simply that the adults do not produce enough to support their children, because they lack the capital needed to leverage their labor effectively. In other cases, the parents are wicked, refusing to support their children by either refusing to work or squandering their wages on drugs. Rebel forces often fund their operations by selling addictive drugs, for which the addicts will even sell their children into slavery.

The ironic thing is that that part of Africa is brimming with natural resources; it should be wealthy. They need investment to develop their industries and thereby enable parents to support their children without the children having to work.

16 Likes

My dad worked on a family farm, then when they lost the farm, he went to work on a neighbor’s farm for his room and board. Call it pre-govt foster care. Fortunately we’ve evolved past our early 1920’s child labor practices.

The article indicates efforts are being made but progress is limited. I don’t know how to fix Africa, but I think the pressure we apply does make a difference. I wouldn’t put all the blame on candy manufacturers though, this is the responsibility of their governments.

3 Likes

I would appreciate very visible labels ( and laws…) that the whole chain of production is free from child labour , human trafficking as labourers,and any of this sort of abuse and corruption,
Maybe it’s high time we demanded it .
It is enraging.

I started work at the age of 10, got up 4.30 am and finished at 5pm did me no harm, made me a better man i think.
and the wage was very little, but it was better than nothing.

6 Likes

It’s good to hear that you feel you have benefitted, but your story breaks my heart that a mere 10-year old had to work at all, let alone for such long hours. Will you please tell us more about that time in your life?

Ha it was no hard ship, only a few days a week. I lived in belfast in N Ireland and at the time it was early seventies and no one had money because as the papers read, when advertising Jobs No Catholics need apply, so no Catholics had jobs not in my area anyway.
Any few pence was welcomed. I was brought up in a different time from today, we lived in the middle of a war and still spent every day outside where bombs could go off or gun battles start up any time any where and I did get caught up in stuff a few times. so basically getting back on track we had nothing, 8 of us in a 2 bed room terrace house and a brown sauce sandwich for bed on a good night.
so thats as brief as I can describe my childhood and as I say it was perfectly normal at the time to go do little bits of work if you could get it. oh and 2 pound a day and a bag of fruit. Oh sorry I worked in the markets selling fruit and veg. Good times some of my best days, I met characters that you would only read about and laughed a lot at people.
some times I could make a little extra helping other stall holders set up or when I used to push a trolley up the hill in Newry to the convent and always got a few sweets or chocolate

My 10 year old sits and plays games with head phones on.( as much as he can that is)
I think I have the better of the two upbringings?
Nice talking to you and thanks for the trip down memory lane.
God Bless

15 Likes

Fair trade chocolates can be found in stores these days- these chocolates make sure that the workers are paid in fair amounts.

4 Likes

Are they labelled “ fair trade” ? Excuse my ignorance… is that the way to help identify the products? Thank you in advance…

1 Like

Yes they are labeled fair trade.

4 Likes

I remember working in my grandparent’s small grocery store. The entire clan helped and I had fun working with my cousins.

To me it was more like play than work.

A lot of family owned businesses had kids helping out around the edges.

3 Likes

Thank you, Sarcelle.

1 Like

I’m all for kids engaging in and learning the value of hard work - e.g. walking up early for farm chores, mowing lawns to save up for a bicycle, or helping in a family-run business as you did. This article is about something entirely different.

I’m guessing that the labor at your parents’ shop didn’t deprive you completely of an education. I also trust that you weren’t beaten while forced to work without pay for long hours in hazardous conditions. You probably weren’t trafficked into your job against your will.

The article in the OP is long but well worth a read.

3 Likes

I’m not sure which of these get imported into your country, but this guide is helpful.

https://www.greenamerica.org/end-child-labor-cocoa/chocolate-scorecard

1 Like

It is. Thank you!

Sorry you feel it’s “heartbreaking”. When I was ten, I was up at dawn, worked for two hours, went to school, came home, worked some more. In the summertime, I worked. If I wasn’t working on our farm, I was helping my dad who did various jobs on the side, flipping houses (before that was a thing), roofing, masonry, handyman work, etc.

And then, when my dad became a college professor and no longer did the contracting jobs, I got a job working for my uncle in his store.

It taught me valuable lessons and helped make me a man. Taught me discipline, a solid work ethic, integrity, and business and practical skills.

I fail to see the problem here.

3 Likes

My uncle was a butcher. He was actually the guy they sent apprentice butchers to train under. I apprenticed under him.

Loved working in his store.

2 Likes

That is an impossible request given the level of corruption and development of these countries.

I think at most these ‘fair trade’ products are niche boutique luxury goods. Their existence serves to make a point but they don’t fundamentally change how the local economy operates.

3 Likes

@HollowMan

Oh, thank you for telling me more! I was seeing a tender boy worn out from working all those hours and not getting to go to school. I didn’t mean to imply that a problem existed. Please accept my apology for having given that impression.

Actually, your schedule was much like mine, then. I, too, was reared on a farm, so well know the value of responsibilities and chores. Lol! Physical labor is good for the soul! We, too, worked before and after school and during summers. You’re right; it was a wonderful experience.

We milked by hand, into buckets, then carried the buckets to the house and down into the basement, poured the milk into large milk cans and let running water pour over them. Around 10:00 AM, a milkman retrieved the cans and poured the milk into a milk tank.

One year, Dad, Mother, and I milked 27 cows (all by hand!) and had 27 cats twining around our ankles, anxious for their shares. I always thought that “27 Cows and 27 Cats” would make a great children’s book, but I’m pretty sure I’ll croak before I get it written. :grinning:

1 Like

The luxury of having children go to school instead of work is something not all societies have. People need to remember the standard of living we in the West have grown accustomed to is an aberration, not the norm.

6 Likes
DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.