For most of human history–and sadly in many parts of the world today–the alternative to child labor is starvation.
Prior to taking a job in a factory, a young person in an under-developed nation was not exactly spending their time playing with friends or staring into the clouds. Far more likely, their new factory job is far less demanding than their former toiling in fields or scavenging for food.
Yes, the thought of young people struggling in such conditions is absolutely heartbreaking. However when the alternative is preventing them from bettering their situations in even the slightest, can we feel morally justified in taking away their only option to improve their lot in life?