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Combating Child Labor in Supply Chains: A UK Perspective

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Introduction - The Harmful Impacts of Child Labour on Education and Mental Health

Child labour refers to the economic physical mental and any type of exploitation of children that is individuals below 18 years of old witch not only hinders their education but also have a very harmful impact on the child's mental health. Child labour is a very common phenomenonthat is found worldwide. But it is a very surprising phenomenon in a developed country like UK. Children who are exposed to labour are deprived of their education and a happy childhood life most of the child labourers are found to be from economically backward families, those which lie below the poverty line.

Child Labour in Supply Chain

Supply chains refer to the process of the production and selling of commercial goods which include all the stages which begin in the manufacturing of materials and the distribution and supply of those goods by the process of distributing and selling. Due to the rapid rise in the global chainsand the increase in demand led to the usage of children as labourers between the supply chains (Boersma, 2017).They are mostly found indirectly. Child labourers are often found engaged in the activities of lower tires, such as the extraction of raw materials, agricultural works.

Argumentative Address of Child Labour

The latest research shows that there are 152 million child labourers among which 64 million are girls and 88 are boys. Child Labourers are mostly found in the developing countries (International Labour Organization, 2021).A survey on child labour showed the impact, the First and the Second World War had on the increase in child labours in United Kingdom (UK). A drastic spike in child Labour to 15.3? was seen in 1944, it consisted of children from 12 to 15 years of age (Ospina&Roser, 2021). Child Labour is mostly found in Supply Chains. A major part of the products consumed by us daily is made by children. Some companies might never have used children as labourers, might buy products and raw materials from companies that usechildren in the manufacturing process. The entire process of child labour in the supply chain is not only limited to using children in the manufacturing process but also involves the exploitation of children both physically and mentally and economical.

Companies, appoint children as labourers to get work done at a much cheaper and faster rate. Many companies and individual, instead of encouraging families to send their children to school, try to convince them to send their children to workwith them in return for cash or other benefits. The main key which influences child Labour is the economic and cultural forces.

There has been an on-going argument about Child Labour in the Supply Chain. According to the report by UNICEF, after the introduction of the Deterrence Act by the U.S, this prohibited the products manufactured by children from being imported. It leads to the loss of jobs of over 50,000 children (Mantouvalou, 2018).DeGregori, who published an article in the favour of children labour, opined that in most of the developed countries it is much easier to get them admitted to schools. But in underdeveloped countries, children must work for their survival. Similarly, the UK after the first and the Second World War was poverty-ridden and hence lead to an increase in the number of child labourers.

On the other hand, there are several exploitations that the children are facing daily in their employment sectors. It starts with low payment to, free work for months. According to, De Stefano &Aloisi, children are also exposed to dangerous industrial works, such as working in the glass factory. Works can also be very tedious, which includes box assembling, sewing, machinery works and many more. Children also get involved in other dangerous works, such as prostitution, slavery, trafficking of children. Besides, Brewster(2018)argued that child labour not only affects education but also have a very adverse influence on the cognitive the mental development of children. It greatly influences. Children’s psychology and disintegrates it. The developments of the countries, especially the UK, have also leaded to anincrease in the literacy rate, government schemes (International Labour Organization, 2021). It is very easy for a family under the poverty line to get benefits from these schemes, then sending their children as labourers to the industries.


Child labour is of any form always having a very bad influence on the children, their families and also the society as a whole. Most of the children slaves are foundin the supply chain manufacturing industries. Children as labourers have decreased over the years in the UK as compared to the other countries.This is because of the MSA Act. The main aim of the Modern Slavery UK Act (2015) is the reduction or eradication of the exploitations of various forms. It also focuses on child slavery which is found in the Global Supply chain (GSC). One of the most important aims of this act is to protect children from any kind of exploitation in the public sector


The United Kingdom hassucceeded to reduce the number of child labourers over the years. But the prevalence of Child Labourers is still found worldwide in both the public and private sectors.To help in the complete eradication of the exploitation of children, there are some recommendation, it includes;

  • The first and the most important step would be to spread awareness among people. Child Labourers are usually found in families below the poverty line. To avoid spending money on their children's education, they send their children to the supply chain manufacturing companies to earn and contribute to the family income. It is very important for the NGO workers and the various Government officials to take initiative to spread awareness among these families about the level of exploitation of children face in these manufacturing industries, and also about the various schemes available, which not only protect them from exploitation but also provide them with free education.
  • Discouraging people are appointing children as labourers. It involves education individuals and companies engaged in child labour, about the impact it have on young children’s mind and lifestyle. Spreading awareness among the children and families will not help until, the organization and individuals promoting it are educated.
  • Taking strict legal measures, including a life time imprisonment and heavy fine for appointing children as labourers and exploration of children will be effective. Although there are some major acts passed by the UK Legislation which are able to keep a strict check on the exploitation of children and child labourers. It includes the (MSA) or The Modern Slavery Act, 2015. It strictly regulates the children exploitation;it also protects employees from any form of discrimination and harassment, etc.
  • Apart from all these measures, there are also several NGOs which came in to protect the children from all sorts of exploitation and provide them with not only a proper home environment but also proper schooling, such as; Save the Children, International Initiative to End Child Labour(IIEL), are some world-wide popular NGOs. It is everyone’s responsibility to stand by these NGOs and help in detecting and preventing the practice of Child Labour.


Mantouvalou, V., 2018.The UK modern slavery act 2015 three years on.https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/1468-2230.12377

Ortiz-Ospina, E. and Roser, M., 2021.Child Labor. [online] Our World in Data. Available at: https://ourworldindata.org/child-labor

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