Social Studies

Site Shows Students the Reach of Child Slavery

By Catherine Gewertz — June 19, 2012 1 min read

From guest blogger Sarah D. Sparks

If typical class discussions of slavery during a Civil War unit seem a bit remote to students, how about asking high school history students how many slaves work for them right now?

The site Slavery Footprint mines a wealth of data from U.S. State and Labor departments and international labor and human rights groups to trace forced labor—and particularly child labor—used in the supply chains of more than 400 food, clothing and other consumer products.

An interactive feature allows students to figure out how many slaves might have worked to manufacture their jeans or electronics. For example, a typical middle-class 14-year-old boy who plays on a couple of sports teams and has a video game system at home might see more than 50 forced workers via the survey.

The website, which has been short-listed for the 2012 Cannes Lions award for a cyber campaign, offers activities to help students and adults find out more about global slavery. One note of caution for teachers of younger students: The site also mentions sex trafficking, though not in detail.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.