Work Ethics and Today’s Youth
When Lewis Hine started to photograph working life around America, he didn’t realize how big of an issue he was capturing. In the essay “Lewis Hine and the Social Uses of Photography” it is written, “Hine believed that pictures could make a difference in the way people thought about issues, such as those surrounding child labor laws. He saw photography as a means of interpreting and revealing the world of work to the public at large” (Lewis Hine 445). The poor work environment that the children were made to work under soon became more apparent to the public and today’s child labor laws were put into effect; but did we make the right choice in taking children completely off the labor market? The answer to that question is a very controversial one that shouldn’t be thought of lightly.
Before Hine’s photographs became the voice of the miss treated youth, children were capable of performing all sorts of jobs. Some of the jobs include coal mining, construction, factory worker, farming, cotton pickers, berry pickers, glass factory workers and more. The coal miners, or “Breaker Boys”, are a good example of child abuse. They were shoved into tiny holes that an adult male couldn’t fit into to mine. The chimney sweeps of Europe is also another prime example of children being abused. Their job was to clean chimneys from the inside out. In his poem, “The Chimney Sweeper”, William Blake wrote, “And by came an Angel who had a bright key, And he open’d the coffins and set them all free. Then down a green plain leaping laughing they run and wash in a river and shine in the Sun” (Blake). All day long the children were in very small confined spaces filled with hazardous cancer causing toxins. A photograph that really speaks out to me is one taken of about eleven teenage boys taking a lunch break on the New York Empire State building; they sit across a suspended beam having lunch as grown men would do. I see this picture and can’t help but wonder...
Cited: Blake, William. “The Chimney Sweeper”. Web
“Lewis Hine and the Social Uses of Photography”. Reading Culture, sixth edition.
New York,NY: Pearson/Langman 444-445
Trachtenberg, Alan. “Reading American Photographs” Reading Culture, sixth edition.
New York, NY: Pearson/Langman 506-513
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