The use of children as laborers, is now considered by wealthy countries as a human-rights violation, and outlawed, while poorer countries may allow it, as families often rely on the labors of their children for survival.

The term child labor generally refers to a larger phenomenon; the systematic exploitation of children for their labor, with little compensation nor consideration for their safety, or health.

International concern has recently been raised has been in regard to an implied moral complicty of the buying public with child exploitation, through the purchase of products assembled or otherwise manufactured with child labor.

Individuals, corporations, nations, and other entities can often be active in a deliberate, systematic, use of children for their labor, while others will ignore such abuse.

In the west, during the Industrial Revolution, use of child labour was commonplace, often in factories. In the United Kingdom during the Victorian era, a series of Factory Acts were passed to gradually restrict the hours that children were allowed to work and improve safety. The United States also has extensive child labor laws.