(Jackson, Wyo.) - Jackson Hole Middle School 7th grader Trey Dykeman wants chocolate companies to stop using child labor practices. Learn more in his essay below. Learn about the local students who #CombattheSilenceJH here.
*Raise The Bar Chocolate Companies! *
*By Trey Dykeman*
I'm looking for chocolate at Smith’s, trying to find the delicious dessert
I have enjoyed for many years. I am concerned only with myself and my
desire for the milky treat. But when we go to check out, my mom tells me to
return it. I stop for a second. Then I whine, “But you always let me get
chocolate”! She replies “Yeah, I know, but Hershey’s has been using child
slave labor in their chocolate.” This was the first I had ever heard of
child labor in the chocolate industry. Child slave labor in the chocolate
industry is something we need to raise awareness about and change, yet few
people know about it.
Globally, we spent over $101 billion on chocolate last year (CNN). If even
half of the world’s chocolate consumers refused to purchase chocolate made
with cacao harvested by child slave laborers, then chocolate companies
would be forced to change their business practices or risk huge financial
losses. These children are being taken away from their families and forced
to work on cacao farms.
According to Knight Ridder Newspaper, “On some of the farms, the hot, hard
work of clearing the fields and harvesting the fruit is done by boys and
girls who were sold or tricked into slavery. Most of them are between the
ages of 12 and 16. Some are as young as 7.” (Knight Ridder Newspapers).
This provides an example of what work the children have to do and how they
got to be to that place. We need to understand that child slave labor is a
serious problem and we need to change it. Children are being tricked and
sold into slavery, and we are doing very little to change it.
*Why is Child Labor Used?*
The reasons for this are complicated, but it is mostly caused because of
poverty and greed. “Violence (or the threat of violence) and coercion (loss
of choice and freedom) and poverty cause slavery to be a decision born out
of economic necessity.” (Sackett) From this evidence , you can infer that
the children are being sold by their own families so they can support
themselves. Poverty is a cause for the children being sold to work, which
is what creates this problem. We have to understand these causes and
imagine not only how horrible it would be to be a slave, but also how it
must feel to live in an area so poverty stricken that you have to sell your
family to be able to afford food.
*Effects of Child Labor*
The effects of child labor are even more devastating. “Americans spend over
13 billion dollars on chocolate each year, and it’s cheap because of the
child labor. Why do you think it only costs $1.50 for a chocolate
bar?”(Sackett) This question, asked by Marjie Sackett, helps understand how
Hershey’s manages to make a large amount of chocolate for a small amount of
money. “It only costs about $1.50 to make 15 chocolate bars” (Bastard Film
& TV) and their annual income is about $7 ½ billion per year (Marketwatch
Financial), so they might as well use money for this: They manage to make
so much because of the child labor allowing for cheap labor, and cheap
cacao. And the effects on the children are even worse. The children are
exposed to harmful pesticides, they are whipped, beaten, and have to do
backbreaking work with dangerous tools, a job not even fit for an
inexperienced adult. So the labor allows Hershey’s to make large profit and
results in children being taken away from their families, exposed to
chemicals, whipped and beaten, and possibly never seeing their family
After reading this evidence, some might say that we should revolt, and
protest with large picket signs; but this is a solution that will be
difficult and lead to argument. We need to be more thoughtful. We need to
boycott chocolate and other products from brands such as Hershey’s, Nestlé,
and Mars. Hershey’s, Nestlé, and Mars own a lot of brands, so even if
you’re not eating chocolate, your Jolly Rancher is still made by a brand
that is tainted with child labor. For a list of brands, you can go to
Mars.com, Hersheys.com, and Nestlé.com. As a matter of fact, Hershey’s and
its associate brands have 342 products and counting. Hershey’s total
revenue was at $14 billion at 2014 (Marketwatch Financial). With new
acquisitions and two years, who knows how much it's gone up? If even half
of us stopped buying from these brands, they would be forced to change
their ways or suffer severe financial loss. “The children are trafficked
across the border, and from there are put to work on the cacao farms. The
children are ages 7-13” These kids are put to work at a young age with
little to no pay, and then kept there possibly forever. Therefore, the best
thing we can do is stop buying these products to force brands to either
raise the bar or lose out on a lot of money.
*What Else Can You do?*
Now you know that child slave labor in the cacao industry is something we
have to change soon. But before you step away and (hopefully) think “Maybe
I’ll have me some slave free chocolate”, There is something you can do.
Yes! You! What I have done to help is give a presentation to my entire
middle school to help raise awareness in my community. I also set up a
stand outside a store with informational pamphlets, handed them out, and
talked to the customers about child slave labor free chocolate. In
addition, I hope that I informed you of this huge problem. So what you can
do to take action is share this information and buy ONLY child slave labor
free chocolate. For more information, I have created an Instagram account
with facts and helpful tips and ideas every week. Follow
@slavefreechocolateinfo to see this account. And finally, you can help by
making a donation to www.slavefreechocolate.org,
which will also have a list of 72
slave free chocolate brands. Thank you for spending the time to become well
informed, and remember to buy ONLY slave labor free chocolate.
The Dark Side of Chocolate. Dir. Miki Mistrati and Robin Romano. Bastard
Film & TV, 2010. Film.
Raghavan, Sudarsan, and Sumana Chatterjee. “How Your Chocolate May Be
Tainted.” Knight Ridder Newspapers: 1-3. Print.
Sackett, Marjie. “Forced Child Labor and Cocoa Production in West Africa.”
Topical Research Digest: Human Rights and Contemporary Slavery. N.p.: n.p.,
n.d. N. pag. Print.
*Feature Photo: Trey Dykeman / Pitchengine Communities*
#buckrail #news #combatthesilencejh