Child Labor Laws

Topics: Law, Human rights, Labor Pages: 6 (2651 words) Published: August 2, 2011
Child Labor Laws

Nashelle Leaks

In the United States there are up to 1.5 million children from the ages of five to fifteen work in harsh conditions in the United States' agriculture industry. Agriculture is one of the most dangerous occupations for workers in the United States1. These children sometimes worked twelve-hour days, they would do hard and tough physical labor, and these children would risk heat illness, exposure to pesticides, serious injuries, and permanent disabilities. Working in these conditions would their life expectancy to only about forty-nine years of age. “Forty-five percent of these children drop out of school and are sentenced to a lifetime of hard labor in the fields1”. The current law allows “sweatshop working conditions by excluding children in agriculture from the minimum age and maximum-hour requirements Congress has enacted to protect children in general”1. Often children in the agriculture industry are not doing chores on the family farm. They are working in an industry ruled by huge businesses that hire them as cheap laborers. To say that shows that there are few laws in the United States to protect children working in agriculture. Former President William Clinton tried to raise hopes by which the United States would change the policies that allow children to work in the hazardous conditions of the agriculture industry. History

There were many forms of child labor such as indentured servitude and child slavery that have existed throughout American history. As industrialization in the U.S. began workers moved from farms and small towns, into cities areas for work. They came to factory work children were preferred because factory owners seem them as more manageable, cheaper, and less likely to strike. With growing pressure to end child labor in the North that caused many factories to move to the South. By 1900, states had different opinions in whether they had child labor standards and in their content and degree of enforcement. At that time, “American children worked in large numbers in mines, glass factories, textiles, agriculture, canneries, home industries, and as newsboys, messengers, bootblacks, and peddlers4”. “In the early twentieth century, the numbers of child laborers in the U.S. peaked. Child labor began to decline as the labor and reform movements grew and labor standards in general began improving, increasing the political power of working people and other social reformers to demand legislation regulating child labor.4” Unions began organizing and child labor reforms were often intertwined, and Idea were conducted by organizations led by working women and middle class consumers, such as state “Consumers’ Leagues and Working Women’s Societies4”. These organizations formed the National Consumers’ League in 1899 and the National Child Labor Committee in 1904, which shared goals of labor, including anti-sweatshop campaigns and labeling programs. The National Child Labor Committee’s work to end child labor was combined with efforts to provide free, education for all children, and in the passage of the Fair Labor Standards Act in 1938, which set up federal standards for child labor in the United States.4 “Although providing a framework for regulation of child labor the FLSA is not comprehensive2.” The regulations do not deal with all employment of children in the same way. Meaning work done by young people under 18 years of age in mines and factories is not allowed. “What other types of work may be suitable (or especially hazardous) for persons under 18 years of age has been left to the discretion of the Secretary of Labor.2” Some types of work for example, that people under 18 can do is some newspaper sales and delivery, as long as their employment falls in the scope of FLSA child labor requirements. Finally, there has been distinction made between employment in nonagricultural fields and in...
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