Oppressive Child Labor-8th Grade Project


Image/Graphics by Photo courtesy of Kaitlyn McGonigal

Joelle Fletcher holding the poster she created about The Hershey Company.

Kaitlyn McGonigal, Author

Did you know that some of your favorite companies use oppressive child labor? For the past month, the 8th graders have been studying this topic in Mr. Matson’s Civics classes. Students presented the information they learned this week by creating posters, models, PowerPoints, and other projects.

Nike, Inc., Apple, Inc., and The Hershey Company were businesses that students chose to report on the most.  Below are some issues that students presented:

Nike, Inc.– In many parts of Asia, oppressive child labor for the brand Nike is going on. Workers are held in sweatshops, where they make clothing, shoes, and other products. This has been going on since the 1970’s. They work in harsh conditions and paid low wages. Many are beaten or threatened when they speak up or complain. Nike confessed to using child labor in 2006, however they have not agreed to stop.

Apple, Inc.– Cobalt mines in Africa are areas where oppressive child labor is happening. Cobalt is an important mineral in many products, from smartphones to electric cars. Children as young as seven work in these open mines, searching for cobalt. The weather conditions are very poor, and the air is full of toxic fumes. Apple has chosen to stay in touch with these mines. Other areas where Apple uses child labor are in China. Foxxcon factories have high school students work 11 hours a day. Apple has not made any statements as to whether this practice will be stopped.

The Hershey Company– On the Ivory Coast in West Africa, children are being forced to work for long hours. The children are held in sheds overnight, and many have scars from being abused. They reap cocoa from tall trees, use machetes to open cacao fruits and remove the cocoa beans with their bare hands. The children carry large sacks for miles. The Hershey Company has been pressed on these issues, however, they have not come up with a solution. 

Many of our students are consumers of the items manufactured by these businesses and should be aware of these issues before they make their next purchases.

Photo courtesy of Kaitlyn McGonigal