Nike products, soccer balls, carpets, orange juice, garments, coffee beans--Consumer activists, labor unions and students have launched boycotts and protests against imports that have allegedly been produced by some of the world's 250 million child workers. But exporting countries complain that the vast majority of child workers do not work in export industries, and throwing children out of work in the export sector will not solve the problem. What will really help child laborers? Will globalization help or hurt?
Sarah L. Bachman is a visiting scholar at the Asia/Pacific Research Center. She was an editorial writer and reporter for the San Jose Mercury News from 1991-1997. Her work has won or shared awards from the World Hunger Media Awards, the World Affairs Council of Silicon Valley, the Overseas Press Club of America, and InterAction, the consortium of U.S. agencies providing emergency relief. Bachman's series of articles on international child labor (on the web at www.merccenter.com/archives/childlabor) were among the nation's first to point out that well intentioned efforts to end child labor sometimes helped--but also, sometimes harmed thousands of child workers. Her multi-media project - including writing, photography, a school curriculum and two Web sites- explores the benefits and drawbacks of efforts to end child labor.