December 12, 1996 in Nation/World

Shoppers Urged To Avoid Child Labor Products

Associated Press

As Americans watch their children unwrap gifts this holiday season, they should think of the youngsters who probably made them for pennies a day in foreign countries, Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin said Wednesday.

He and consumer advocate Ralph Nader asked parents to avoid buying toys and other gifts that could have been made in countries with widespread abusive child labor.

“It’s ironic that when consumers buy a can of tuna fish, they know if dolphins are protected, but when they buy their holiday gifts, they don’t know if children are protected,” Harkin, a Democrat, said.

Harkin advised shoppers to:

Look for a “Made in the USA” label. While such a label does not guarantee a product wasn’t made through “child exploitation or other labor abuses,” he said, child labor is largely a problem with foreign-made goods.

Ask retailers what steps they’re taking to stock products that are not made by children and urge them to carry products that are certified “child labor free.”

Contact manufacturers directly and the celebrities who endorse their products to ask what they’re doing to ensure their products were not made with child labor.

Call trade groups and local chambers of commerce to urge them to support independent monitoring efforts. Tell friends and neighbors about the problem and urge them to get involved.

Ask their elected officials to support a bill Harkin will introduce that would ask manufacturers to voluntarily label their sporting goods and clothing products as free of child labor.

© Copyright 1996 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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