Today I fast along with 40 other bloggers for God to do a work in my heart for children around the world who work in horrible conditions and miss out on childhood.

There are approximately 246 million children aged 5-17 in child labor worldwide. This is nearly the size of the U.S. population of 293,027,571! Of these, about 186 million are below the age of 15. Strikingly, the majority of these children, nearly 110 million, are less than 12 years old.

One in every eight children 5 to 17 years old – 179 million – work in the worst forms of child labor.

Key Statistics

*The global number of child labourers in the age group 5-17 decreased from 246 million in 2000 to 218 million in 2004, a decrease of 11 per cent. The percentage of child labourers in this age group went down from 16 per cent (1 in 6) in 2000 to 14 per cent (1 in 7 ) in 2004.

*The number of children aged 5-17 engaged in hazardous work has declined by 26 per cent, from 171 million in 2000 to 126 million in 2004. With 33 per cent, the decline in the age group 5-14 has even been sharper.

*Around 5 million children have benefited directly or indirectly from IPEC’s work.

*Latin America and the Caribbean stand out in terms of a rapid decline of child labour. The number of children at work in the region has fallen by two-thirds over the last four years, with just 5 per cent of children ages 5-14 now engaged in work.

*With 26 per cent, or close to 50 million child workers, the proportion of children engaged in economic activities in sub-Saharan Africa is currently the highest of any region in the world.

*In the Asian-Pacific region, 122 million children ages 5-14 are engaged in work, 5 million fewer than four years ago. Less than 20 per cent of Asian children in that age group are now at work.

*In industrialized countries, about 2.5 million children under the age of 15 were at work in 2000.

*Almost 7 out of 10 working children are in the agricultural sector; whereas 22 per cent work in services and 9 per cent in industry, including mining, construction and manufacturing.

*The estimated cost of the elimination of child labour is US$760 billion over a 20-year period. The estimated benefit in terms of better education and health is over US$4 trillion. The economic benefits would therefore outweigh the costs by nearly 6 to 1, not to mention the unquantifiable social benefits to be gained.

Pray today for these children as I will be posting myths that come along with this problem throughout the day.