Secretly, we just don’t relate because these are kids in a far-off country instead of our own.
I’m the mother of four children, age two to six. That means I’ve spent six Halloweens supervising my kids as they canvas our neighborhood, snapping up chocolates from our neighbors. I only discovered last year that my kids were collecting the products of child laborers, some of whom have been trafficked for the chocolate trade.
Every October, American kids like mine are treated to a wide array of chocolates—Snickers, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Butterfingers—because hundreds of thousands of children in West Africa are enslaved harvesting cocoa beans. These children are performing this work for the benefit of most of the mainstream chocolate providers in the United States. A report from the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture on cocoa farms in the Ivory Coast and other African countries estimated there were 284,000 children working on cocoa farms in hazardous conditions. Many of them have been taken from their families and sold as servants. U.S. chocolate manufacturers have claimed they are not responsible for the conditions on cocoa plantations, since they don't own them. This group includes Hershey, Mars, Nestle, and the U.S. division of Cadbury. Collectively, they are responsible for pretty much every snack-size candy bar available in stores this Halloween.