The Practice of Child Labor in Developing Countries

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CONFERENCE: Symposium Of University Research and Creative Expression (SOURCE)

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Mailhot, Brittney; Kangas, Nikki; Ikeda, Arisa; Lindberg, Jessica
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The use of child labor in developing countries, especially by U.S. companies is a hot-button issue in the modern business world. Often times, when prominent companies, such as Nike and Gap, are exposed for their use and/or exploitation of child labor, the backlash from the general public can have a drastic effect on the company’s bottom line. Our investigation questions whether the issue of child labor is perceived so negatively in the public eye because of its inherent nature, or because of how it is portrayed by the general media. There are seemingly countless reports of instances when U.S. companies have abused their authority as job providers in developing countries. But, it is also reasonable to believe that, when executed appropriately and humanely, the economic benefits of child labor can become a great asset to a growing country’s economy. American companies have high standards for their workers in the United States, but the very nature of a developing country makes it nearly impossible, and therefore easier, to adopt less stringent labor laws and regulations. Whether this issue centers on simply the physical conditions children often work in, the fact that children are being used as a labor source to begin with, or biased media coverage, this business practice has more aspects than many people realize. Our objective is to show that there is an ethical side of using children in the work force.