U.S. government officials believe children are bearing the brunt of the global economic crisis.
On Wednesday, the Labor Department released its annual report on child labor, highlighting countries that continue to violate international standards to end the abuse. New to the list are Angola, Central African Republic, Chad, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Holly Burkhalter of the International Justice Mission discuessed how significant of a problem child labor has become and the future of the children on the Dec. 16 edition of CBN Newschannel's Morning News. Click play to watch the interview.
The U.S. said its goal isn't to punish countries where child laborers toil, but it does want to shine a light on the abuse of some 200 million children.
"No family should have to depend on the labor of its children to put food on the table," said Hilda Solis, U.S. Secretary of Labor. "And no person should be forced to work in captivity."
The latest report showed that while child labor fell by about three percent from 2004 to 2008, the rate of decline has since dropped off. Officials said they're concerned that the global economic crisis is putting increased pressure on the poor -- leading to further exploitation of children.
"I'm talking about children who are forced to work and denied the opportunity to go to school," said Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa. "These children endure long hours, for little or no pay."
The report said India remains home to the greatest number of child laborers, followed by China. It includes a list of 128 goods produced by child labor around the world.
Six new goods were added this year including coffee and sugar cane from El Salvador, tea from Rwanda, and diamonds from several African countries.
The U.S. is hoping the report will motivate governments to take action on child labor. Labor officials told CBN News that churches and faith-based groups are a key part of the solution.
"The religious leaders can explain to the families why it's so important to keep the children in school and then help work out the programs in the community that will allow that to happen," said Sandra Polaski, deputy undersecretary for the Bureau of International Labor Affairs.
The Labor Department said churches can inspire parents to make this progress with their children -- and in many cases -- are probably the decisive factor.