The Human Thread

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Do Children Make Our Christmas Gifts?

December 12, 2016

Author: editor

Category: Learn


Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

Thus begins Clement Clarke Moore’s Christmas classic. I have long loved this poem. My memories of Christmas as a child include midnight mass, and opening one present on Christmas Eve from my maternal grandmother: always a pair of pajamas. Then we (my siblings and I) went to bed until morning when, after Santa’s visit, we would open a mountain of gifts under the tree.

Such wonderful images and memories remain with me; hoping for a world where all children could have the same. However, my Christmas recollections have been jarred by another vision that I can’t get out of my head.

Recent news reports and investigations reveal anew the ongoing shame of child labor, all-too-prevalent instances of human exploitation, including children in Bangladesh and of Syrian refugee children in Turkey.  

Child workers at the small garment factory in Jakarta, Indonesia Photo: ©ILO/Asrian Mirza

Child workers at the small garment factory in Jakarta, Indonesia
Photo: ©ILO/Asrian Mirza

I recommend two articles in particular:

In and effort to supplement the meager household income of their parents some of those children are also victims of trafficking and modern-day slavery.

Most parents, like us, want their children to be in schools, but low wages for their parents are a good reason they are not. Our corporations need to be ever more vigilant around human exploitation in their supply chain. Amid the opaque relationships between corporations, contractors, and subcontractors, our retailers must work to insure that children have the gift of childhood. While they are trying to overcome child labor, it’s clear the problem persists.

As we gather around the Christmas tree in coming days, please, take a moment to recall those children in the supply chain who may have labored to make our Christmas clothes.