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Children's Rights/Child Labor - Photos & Posters as Instruments of Change
Kenneth T. Saroka, East Brunswick (NJ) High School

OVERVIEW: Throughout the world, 250 million children are working to earn money for their families, 125 million work full time. The conditions under which they labor are often brutal and because they work, they are denied an education to improve their condition, they are denied the protection of the law, and are denied the opportunity to be a child.

CORE QUESTION: What are the conditions under which children are forced to work?

TIME REQUIRED: One 40-minute classroom period, some carryover into another 40-minute segment possible.

SUGGESTED GRADE LEVELS: Most appropriate for Middle or Junior High School students involved in Global Studies classes, or who are involved in more topic-oriented social issues-based classes at the High School level. Access to a computer with the ability to demonstrate the images on the computer onto a larger TV screen is needed. Access to a computer lab for your entire class is a better way to proceed. Access and availabilities of poster board and art supplies and old magazines is vital in the creation of posters.

INTERDISCIPLINARY CONNECTIONS: Social Studies, Visual Arts (posters/photography)-This lesson is based on the interpretation of visual materials and suits multiple learning styles. English-thematic or interpretive essay writing.

NEW JERSEY CORE CONTENT STANDARDS : 6.1: 10-13; 6.2: 9-11; 6.3: 9,12,14; 6.4: 9-13; 6.5 13-5; 6.6 13-15; 6.7: 11-12; 6.8: 12-17;


  1. Students will describe the conditions that children work under through the world
  2. Students will contrast differences in regions through interpretation of photographic evidence
  3. Students will evaluate the harshness of life and relate to their own circumstances in a written essay form or in visual art form in the creation of a poster.



Have the students access the Internet and go to and have them enter "child labour" (spelled the European way--labour) into the search engine. Approximately 35 pictures will be culled from the photo archives of the International Labour Organization (ILO) that deal with child labor. The teacher could narrate or allow the students to view the pictures on their own at their own pace. After completely viewing all photos, teacher will then ask for the students to offer their opinions of what they saw and guide the discussion towards how children in the United States view work. If there are any recent immigrants to the US from "developing" nations, ask them to contribute their experiences from their former home countries. This would begin the process of eliminating stereotypes, break down inherent xenophobia, and allow for more open discussion.

Next go to and view the posters that the ILO has created on all issues of labor. Clicking on the poster thumbnail will enlarge it, clicking on the PDF link will bring up the poster in Adobe Acrobat Reader. View styles, wording, imagery and discuss the relative effectiveness of the poster and its message.

If you do not have Adobe Acrobat Reader:

1) Click on the poster and it will come up in JPG format
2) Download Adobe Acrobat Reader free by clicking on the link provided. It is a very useful program.

The potential assignments:

A) After the students have exchanged ideas in an honest discussion, have the students bring up a word processing program. Instruct them to select one of the pictures which shows a child engaged in labor and write a journal entry as that child. The journal entries should note which photograph (by number and brief description) the student is using as his/her model. The journal entries should contain separate paragraphs on the conditions of the child's labor (physical, mental, financial) and on their outlook towards life and growing up. Print before time has expired.


B) Have the students create, from materials at hand (preferred) or at home posters that bring to light the causes and consequences of child labor. Posters should address one aspect of labor and be visually stimulating.

II) IF A COMPUTER LAB IS NOT AVAILABLE--but you can display the pictures on the TV.... display the pictures, discuss, then go back and select several examples for the students to use, then allow the students to write their journal entries, collect when finished.

As a follow-up: After the essays are returned, the teacher could read several good examples aloud, asking the students why they selected them and why they chose to respond in the way that they did.

III) If neither scenarios above work for you, the ILO allows its posters and photos to be reproduced. Below is its statement taken from its web page:

"ILO photographs are copyright free but appropriate credit must be given to the International Labour Office and the photographer. The photographs should be used in a manner which respects human dignity without causing prejudice to any party."

Copy and paste, then print photographic examples that you find compelling and work into the lessons above.


Computer lab or research packets.


Research packets can be compiled from the following sources, or students may access them directly:

International Labour Organization web site ( Individual page addresses are listed above with the lesson. Suggest that you try searching images on ( click IMAGES--then type in Child Labor as the topic) for more examples. The use of those pictures found on such a search are governed by the copyright holder and may not be available freely.

ASSESSMENT: Quality class participation in the discussions should be noted in whatever manner is consistent with your grading rules. Essays should be graded on their detail, authenticity, and the ability to comprehend and synthesize visual information into an expanded writing. For posters--effort, on-point with the message, creativity, should be taken into account when grading.

To learn more about the influence of Children's Rights on our global society, click on the links below:
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