Child slavery and child labour

Stephen J. McKinney, Robert J. Hill and Honor Hania

Child slavery and child labour deny children their God-given dignity and freedom, and their right to education. Catholic Social Teaching is unequivocal in resolute condemnation of child slavery and child labour, in all of their forms. Stephen J.McKinney and Honor Hania are from the University of Glasgow, Robert J. Hill is parish priest of St Matthew?s, Bishopbriggs.

Over the last few months, we have presented a series of articles in the Pastoral Review on the topic of contemporary slavery and the responses from scripture and Catholic Social Teaching. In this article we examine child slavery and the related problem of child labour. We also examine the very consistent and forcible condemnation of all forms of child exploitation and slavery in the response from Catholic Social Teaching. This response has three strands: first, a strong commitment to raising awareness and identifying the extent and the effects of child slavery and child labour; second, the Church draws on the Christian understanding of the dignity of the individual and her/his rights to challenge child slavery and child labour and third, a call to action to support the efforts to eliminate child slavery and child labour.

Distinguishing between child labour and child slavery
Children are defined by the United Nations as a person under the age of eighteen unless otherwise legally specified. There are estimated to be around 8.4 million child slaves in the contemporary world.

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