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According to the International Labor Office, 5.7 million children in Latin America and the Caribbean under the age of 17 are working under extremely harsh and hazardous conditions. Many have been forced to leave their families, and are struggling to survive on their own.

In Central America and Mexico, at least 80,000 to 100,000 kids are living on the streets. Often forced to perform dangerous and degrading labor, these children are at great risk of being physically or sexually exploited.

Watch this short video to learn about child labor, and what Covenant House is doing to provide a better life for these children in Central America.

Help us to spread the word, sharing this stories with as many friends and family members as possible, so that together we can take this nightmare to an end.

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After receiving over 4200 letters from Change.org community members, Choice Hotels has made an important decision. They will take proactive action to prevent child prostitution in their hotels. Their decision comes after a long letter-writing campaign from Change.org and over a month of discussions with leading child protection organization ECPAT. I hope you will all join me in celebrating Choice Hotels’ commitment to the important issue of prevent child sex trafficking. We welcome them as an ally in the fight to protect America’s children from exploitation in prostitution.

Change.org members began contacting Choice Hotels, parent company of Comfort Inn, shortly after five-year-old Shaniya Davis was sold into prostitution and taken to a Comfort Inn in North Carolina. As a result of their commitment to protecting children like Shaniya Davis and responding to the needs of customers like Change.org members, Choice Hotels has agreed to take the following actions:

* Develop a training designed to teach key staff to recognize child prostitution and take appropriate steps with help from ECPAT-USA. This training will be incorporated into the week-long training given to all new franchisees;

* Develop training materials on child prostitution prevention that will be published on the Choice University website, available to most employees; and

* Develop training materials that can be downloaded from Choice University website for individual hotels to share with their employees who do not normally see the website itself.

ECPAT and Choice Hotels also discussed the possibility of Choice Hotels’ website mentioning its support for The Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation in Travel and Tourism. Carol Smolenski, Executive Director of ECPAT-USA said,

We are thrilled to have the commitment of Choice hotels to train their new franchisees about commercial sexual exploitation of children. This is a huge step forward to protecting children from these terrible crimes. It truly was the good work of Change. Org members who helped build the momentum to get Choice to the table. Thank you so much.

Congratulations to Choice Hotels for making the ethical and business-savvy decision to proactively prevent child prostitution at their hotels. And thanks to all the over 4200 Change.org members who sent in letters expressing their support of this action. Together, we can help prevent the tragedy of child prostitution and child trafficking, so hopefully no other child or family will have to suffer like Shaniya Davis and her family.

Amanda Kloer

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