Get Hershey to End its Harmful Child Labor Practices

Target: Hershey Corporation

Goal: To get Hershey to end its harmful child labor practices

Of the 8 chocolate companies that signed the Harkin-Engel Protocol in 2001, a protocol designed to eliminate the “worst forms of child labor,” Hershey’s remains the only chocolate company to continue to employ child labor in its supply chain. In 2001, when reports of human rights violations – such as human trafficking and physical abuse – in West African cocoa farms raised public concern, Representative Eliot Engel and Senator Tom Harkin introduced the protocol in an attempt to end child labor by only certifying cocoa produced without it. Despite having signed this protocol in 2001, the Hershey company continues to employ cruel forms of child labor in the production of its cocoa.

At the time the Harkin-Engel Act was passed, 1.8 million children worked in West African cocoa farms. These farms were owned by several different cocoa companies, including Hershey’s. Reports of the violations occurring on these cocoa farms included the trafficking of children from Malawi, sexual and physical abuse, low wages, and inhumane living conditions. Ten years later, not much has changed in terms of Hershey’s child labor practices. There are reports of foreign students working in Hershey factories who are paid minimum wage, work long hours, and who are housed in large warehouses. There are also reports that Hershey’s has made no attempt to implement anti-child labor practices and in West African cocoa farms, the worst forms of child labor are still being employed by the chocolate company.

It’s time that Hershey’s begin to fulfill its duties as outlined in the Harkin-Engel protocol and work to end its child labor practices. Ten years after signing the protocol, no significant improvements have been made by the company and, in fact, it is recognized as being the only chocolate company to have lagged behind in terms of fulfilling its duties. Hershey’s, who has affectionately labeled themselves “America’s Chocolate Company,” is the only company to continue to employ the worst forms of child labor. These forms include sexual and physical abuse, exploitation, pitiful wages, and inhumane living conditions. The public needs Hershey’s full commitment to ending its child labor practices and full transparency in making these practices visible.


Dear Hershey’s,

In 2001, you were one of the eight chocolate companies to sign the Harkin-Engel Protocol. Under this act, you are required to commit yourself to ending the worst forms of child labor that have been employed by the Hershey company in the past, and that continue to be used in the present. Despite the plan of action outline in this protocol, the Hershey company has made little to no attempt to amend its practices. In order to regain public support, it’s time that Hershey’s, like other companies that signed the act, direct its efforts to redressing the severe human rights violations it has committed in West African cocoa farms and in Hershey factories around the world.

At the time the protocol was introduced, reports of child trafficking, physical and sexual abuse, and deplorable living conditions raised public concern regarding the usage and treatment of children as laborers in West African cocoa farms. Ten years later, it is safe to say that not much progress has been made in terms of Hershey’s child labor practices. There are current reports of foreign students being mistreated in Hershey factories, and there are reports that children are still being subjected to the same inhumane work conditions in West Africa as they were ten years ago.

It’s time that Hershey’s begin to direct its efforts into changing its current child labor practices. The Harkin-Engel protocol was signed ten years ago and, to date, no significant improvement has been made by the Hershey company. Until Hershey’s begins to make serious strides towards improving the status of children in its business practices and until it makes these practices transparent to the public, Hershey’s reputation as “America’s Chocolate Company” will tarnish.


[Your Name Goes Here]


  1. Kenneth Knoppow says:

    I just purchased 20 shares of Hershey stock. How can I use the fact that I am now a shareholder to raise the issue of child labor with the powers that be?

  2. why do they do this???

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