16 thoughts on “CHILD LABOR”

  1. Reading the article and the comments, I feel all parties are in constant battles with each. The government appears to try and answer the needs of both the child and his family, while the family is looking out for its best interest as a whole, and the child is basically falling victim to what his parents say and his “obligations.” There will never be change if the parents of farmworkers continue to support child labor, which they will, to provide for their family overall. It becomes a decision of which is a lesser evil. Is the child’s endangerment level and lack of education, worse than an entire family who cannot support support itself and provide for itself. This constant struggles places the problem onto the government, which has no idea about the lifestyle. This issue has to first be addressed within the farmworkers’ community, then the solutions can be addressed by the government.

  2. http://canmybossdothat.com/category.php?id=143&state=KY

    This website outlines what lunch and rest breaks employers are required to provide for their employees, including those under 18. For Kentucky, the site states: “Workers in Kentucky have a right to a 30-minute meal break and two 10-minute paid rest breaks in 8 hours. Workers under 18 years old have a right to a meal break after 5 hours work and to be paid for any breaks shorter than 30 minutes.” Prior to looking at this site, I didn’t realize that different states had different rules about meal and rest breaks. I assumed that there was a federal regulation that would require a break after a certain number of hours, especially for minors. I found it very interesting that the Kentucky law requires employers to provide more breaks than most other states. Many states do not require employers to provide rest breaks, and some states are only required to give lunch breaks to minors. This makes me wonder how many employers in Kentucky are taking advantage of minors who don’t know that they are entitled to a rest and meal break after a 5-hour shift. It also makes me think about migrant youth who move from state to state often. It would be extremely hard to keep track of what each state requires employers to provide, and it would be very easy for employers to take advantage of them.

  3. I have to admit, before reading this article, I hadn’t really thought about child labor in the U.S. very much. I had thought that child labor on farms was a construct that went out in the 80’s and that there were stricter laws in place to help prevent the use of child labor in any workforce in the U.S. Unfortunately, it seems that I was wrong. It is not my place to tell families that they should not utilize their children in order to help make ends meet, because in some instances, its a problem that is very real and leaves families with very little choice. However, I will say that it is wrong of us as a government, parents, educators, and adults in general to make these conditions safe, manageable, and at least equally paid for equal work regardless of the hours put in. Because while it may be a necessary evil for some, working in such conditions for long periods of times can be detrimental to youth development mentally, physically, and emotionally. While the laws presented in the piece sound good, they have yet to be implemented and that is the horrifying part. Passing these laws and promoting safer working environments for everyone, including our children should be a priority.

  4. Prior to reading the article on child labor, I did not realize that it was as big an issue. When I was teaching kindergarten I had a student who was well-behind in school, so much so that he eventually had an IEP done and had to be taken out of the class for extra support. He could not do simple things such as write his name or count to 100. However, if anyone asked him anything about a farm he was very knowledgeable in the topic and could tell you anything about it. During the parent-teacher conference I found out that he lived on a farm with his parents and it was something that they enjoyed doing and focused on more than their child’s education. It is very disheartening to know that parents are allowing their children to focus more on working/farming than their education.

    1. I agree that it is very sad that this child was in an environment that valued his ability to work on a farm over his ability to succeed in school. However, I think it is important to think about where the child’s parents are coming from. I think it is necessary to think about this from their point of view. If they live on a farm, then farming is their livlihood. Education level (ability to read, write, etc.) affects how successful the farm is. However, how much they know about farming and how much experience they have in farming has a much more direct and obvious effect on the success of their farm. Based on families that I know who live on farms, these parents are probably expecting their to take over the farm when he is old enough. In fact, the land and the farm will probably be his inheritance, so it is necessary that he is able to maintain the farm. While I don’t think it is right for the parents to hurt his education for the sake of farm experience, I can see why they value their son having knowledge of the farm. In their minds, his future is farming so that is all he needs know. I don’t think that it is realistic to expect those parents to not value farming knowledge. However, I think it is very important for them to realize how having a good education will help their son be a better farmer. It would be interesting to develop education materials for farming families that explain why having good math and reasoning skills create a more successful farm. Hopefully this would result in a better balance of valuing both formal and farming education.

  5. This past summer, I travelled abroad to Peru for a service-learning experience. It struck a chord with me that children in Peru began working at the age of 8. Boys were working in the industrial trade and little girls were basically mid-wives and nannies. The whole time in Peru, I was thinking child labor is something that doesn’t happen in the U.S. I had no idea of the child labor crisis in the agriculture industry. It saddens me to think of the chemicals and heavy machinery that children may be exposed to at such an early age.
    According to the statistics 1/3 of farmworker youth don’t graduate from high school. All a 12 year old should be worried about is who they are taking to their first middle school dance. Something needs to be done and I fully support the The Children’s Act for Responsible Employment. Children shouldn’t be exposed to hazardous materials until they can fully understand their decisions and I believe 16 is a good age for judgement.

  6. After reading the article I decided to look up information about the progress of the Children’s Act for Responsible Employment bill. From what I have researched, it has not been passed yet. Recently there have been many deaths amongst young children in the agricultural industry, which exemplifies the importance of this bill. On the “End Childhood Labor in The US” Facebook page I read an article about a 13-year-old girl who died from getting caught and dragged into a farm machinery. It is highly unfortunate that children have to take on adult responsibilities and as a result they become prone to injuries, illnesses, or even death. This article was very informative to me because I tend to only hear about individuals advocating for factory labor laws, and this opened my eyes to a different group of victims that also deserve employment rights.

    1. This bill has not been passed and has effectively died on the floor over the last few years. Bernie Sanders’ plan and general advocacy for children’s rights is a valuable perspective to consider in the up and coming political environment. I was not thrilled to hear little to no discussion of education and policy for children (in terms of both homelessness and labor laws – aside from a discussion of minimum wage) in either of the televised Democratic or Republican debates. It will be essential in the coming election to make a stronger case for educational reform and policy adjustment to begin to combat such high rates of homeless/impoverished youth, in addition to those being forced to be laborers. The other side of this epidemic to use children as laborers is the perpetual cycle of poverty and lack of formal education that contributes to over societal issues of prostitution, theft, and violence. It is vital that policies consider future generations in economic contexts.

  7. There are many situations around the world which require an additional income in the home in order to eat, live and survive from day to day. Children are expected to peddle wares on the streets in order to raise additional money for the family. In old times children were put to work for long hours and for little pay, which is one reason why people did not live very long. I also feel that child labor should be seen in context with the type of work, hours of work, and the need for work. If a family farms and an older member is injured, the family could possibly perish from a lack of hands to collect a harvest and collect the usual pay received as a result. Many aspects go into what is considered child labor and what is acceptable.

  8. The topic of child labor is not necessarily one that we would think of in the U.S. When we think child labor we most likely think of a place overseas, possibly in a third world country. The truth is that this happens all over the world, not just in these developing countries. Having grown up on a farm, we never thought twice about having to help with the garden, the livestock, or the crops…it was just expected of us. Of course, they also expected us to do well in school and our school work always came first. However, when it is harvest season and you are rushing to get a crop in or put hay up before bad weather sets in, you often work longer hours at a much faster pace than normal. The reality is that accidents do happen as agriculture is one of the most dangerous industries one can work in. Personally, I see no problem in allowing older children to work in Agriculture as long as they are in a safe position. Having operated machinery from the time I was old enough to reach the pedals (even if I had to stand up to do so) I know how dangerous agricultural work can be, but I also know how important this work is. An average farmer today feeds over 144 people while in the 1960s the average farmer fed only 26 people. With the growing population and increased production, migrant workers often have no choice but to bring their children with them when they move for work. Since the children move around a lot, they may pick up at a new school in the middle of the year- a situation not conducive to learning. It is statistically more likely for these children to have a higher dropout rate than those who don’t move around. Not only this, but these children may be expected to bring in additional income to help the family. I do believe that more stringent policies should be in place for children’s exposure to pesticides, heavy machinery, and long hours. However, I also think that educational opportunities could be better available to the children of migrant workers in an effort to keep them in school and out of the fields until they have an education.

    1. I agree with Courtney’s statements as we grew up in similar situations. I think a lot of times, child labor needs to be looked at in context. There are certainly situations where child labor laws need to be enforced – for safety of the child, moral obligations, and age of child (is the child school age, is so, they should be in school). However, doing small tasks or chores around the house or farm should not be an issue, as long as the tasks are age appropriate for the child. I have been made more aware about migrant workers through this class, and know that many times, migrants who are working in the US need to send money back to their families in their native countries. Laws can be made to say that teenagers can only work so many hours per week or only do certain jobs, but how do we handle situations where the teenager is a vital provider for their family, especially if the teen came from a country where there were no labor laws and they see nothing wrong with the amount they work each week?

  9. When we hear the words “sex trafficking,” as Americans we immediately think of women and children overseas who are being forced into the sex trade or who are brought into the United States for the purpose of sexual exploitation. We don’t usually think closer to home — Americans trafficked by Americans. This website provides statistics and documentation on sex trafficking in the United States. Additionally, this site offers refuge and restoration to American girls who have been victims of sex trafficking or sexual exploitation.

    1. I agree with you Chelsea! I think because America is such a developed nation that people often forget that we have a lot of issues, including sex trafficking, to deal with. We have them in lexington and I distinctly remember this year alone about the man who drove from Cincinnati to buy and sell a teenager for sex. Its sad that people have to be objected to such horrible behavior. Anybody can become a victim to sex tracking.

  10. In colonial America, child labor was not a subject of controversy. It was an integral part of the agricultural and handicraft economy. Children not only worked on the family farm but were often hired out to other farmers. However, times have surely changed in terms of child labor in America today. Furthermore, the minimal role of child labor in the United States today is one of the more remarkable changes in the social and economic life of the nation over the last two centuries. The educational reformers of the mid-nineteenth century convinced many among the native-born population that primary school education was a necessity for both personal fulfillment and the advancement of the nation. This led several states to establish a minimum wage for labor and minimal requirements for school attendance. This article describes the Child Labor Education Project and covers topics such as – the history of child labor in the United States, child labor reform and the U.S. Labor movement, causes of child labor, U.S. laws pertaining to child labor, and actions toward ending child labor in the United States. Additionally, the website provides a timeline of events ranging from 1832-1938 when child labor in the United States was at its peak.

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