Photo from VR video “A day in the life of Amani” of Terre des Hommes Netherlands

Where and how does it happen?

And what exactly do we mean by using this term?

Child exploitation is a global problem.

There are many forms of child exploitation. Child exploitation includes child domestic work, child soldiers, the recruitment and involvement of children in armed conflict, sexual exploitation and pornography, the use of children for criminal activities including the sale and distribution of narcotics and the involvement of children in harmful or hazardous work.

It is given, wherever profit is made out of children’s vulnerability and lack of power. It occurs whenever a child is abused to somebody else’s benefit. When children have to work from a too early age on and or for long hours. When they work under dangerous or unhealthy conditions. When they are underpaid or even exposed to forced labour, debt bondage, and slavery.

Child work vs. Child exploitation

In its fight against child labour, Terre des Hommes makes a distinction between child work and child labour, and gives top priority to eradicating the latter. Child work refers to the participation of children in an economic activity which is not detrimental to their health and mental and physical development. It is light work for a limited amount of hours, according to their age and abilities, that doesn’t interfere with a child’s education or leisure activities. This work, when teaching the children skills, techniques and important social values, can even be seen as beneficial for the child’s development. In contrast, child labour refers to all kinds of labour which jeopardize a child’s physical, mental, educational or social development. Hazardous child labour is prohibited for all children, in line with Convention 182 on the worst forms of child labour.

Children cannot easily recognize the elements that bring them in exploitative situations, nor easily express or defend themselves. It needs a holistic approach to protect them from exploitation.

Terre des Hommes position on child labour


Terre des Hommes stops child exploitation

Together with our partners we actively fight child exploitation on different levels: working directly with the children affected, their families and communities, training experts and officials and advocating for children’s rights policies.

Geographic dislocation and rupture with the children’s home communities create further dependence and compel to submissiveness. A recent video by Terre des Hommes Netherlands shows the situation of Child Migrant Workers in Thailand who are mainly being exploited in fishing, construction and the sex industry.

“I didn’t want to go to Thailand but my stepmother said I owe her money and have to go to work”

“I never got paid. All the money went to my stepmother”



“168 million children are affected by child labour and more than half of them, 85 million, are doing hazardous work. 1 to 2 million children are forced into sexual exploitation and pornography per year and thus exposed to serious trauma, to diseases, alcohol and drugs.”

Highlight action


“My name is Sweetie, I am 10 years old. Every day I have to sit in front of the computer and talk to men. Just like tens of thousands of other kids.”

A hidden and largely unknown form of child exploitation is spreading like a plague: webcam child sex tourism. Men from wealthy countries pay children in poor countries to perform sexual acts in front of a webcam.

Sweetie has become world news – the campaign has reached around one billion people worldwide. Webcam Child Sex Tourism is now on the political agenda. Several governments have implemented or are preparing more effective measures to prohibit and punish online child abuse.

Several offenders have been arrested. The first conviction of one of them in Australia meant a major breakthrough in terms of accountability and is a direct outcome of the Sweetie Campaign. It may be slow, but the process is continuing: in April 2015 a second and third man were convicted in Belgium and Denmark.

Read more about Sweetie: