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Why the Future of America Isn’t Focused on Education

“Boys Selling Newspapers”
Hine, Lewis

Imagine seven year old you, getting up in the morning getting ready for the day, probably for school. Now instead of getting ready to go to school you go to work for ten hours, there’s no time for an education if you have to work (“Child Labor Drive Spurred By Green” and “Preliminary Survey of Conditions”). And the conditions you work in are dangerous, dark and dirty. That’s the life of many children in America at the start of the Industrial Revolution. Now imagine fifteen year old you going to the gas station wanting to buy cigarettes. You are turned down because you are not old enough, and cigarettes can cause many health issues. But imagine working on a tobacco farm and have more traces of nicotine than cigarette smokers and many of the same health issues (Colihan and Ramos). That’s the life of some children in America today.

My Interest:

I fully believe that a child should be a child. They should be playing make believe and run around full of energy, before they enter a their working life ahead of them. It’s great that we’ve begun to fix the problem of child labor in America, but it’s still happening. And maybe it’s less extreme than it used to be, but if there are still children out there being deprived of a carefree childhood we need to fix it. And I don’t care if it’s a small percentage, kids are the future of America and should not be deprived of a childhood. Children who come to America for opportunity shouldn’t have to work dangerous jobs to pay off debts, rather be giving education and a childhood that will set them up for success. I hope that America can fully end child labor, and other countries to follow. All in all, I want to research and find a solution to child labor, because of a deep passion I have for kids to have the childhood they deserve.

For more information about my personal interest on the topic click the link for my full essay https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Q2EgDWg5X_X-WRiYHZi0Bw5aNBX1FkttjRTYrq1yYfI/edit?usp=sharing

Child Labor During the Industrial Revolution:

“Girl Working in Box Factory”
Hine, Lewis

In the beginning of the industrial revolution many child were employed. Child laborers could have a large range of jobs including: street workers, coal miners, cotton mill workers, factory workers, sweatshop workers, and agricultural workers (Schuman).

Throughout the Industrial Revolution, most child laborers were deprived of an education, because they were working such long hours they didn’t have time (“Child Labor Drive Spurred By Green”). Disregarding these long working hour, the average amount a child laborer would make is two dollars and fifty cents, which the owners of sweatshops, mills, factories, and such lived off of, because it was cheaper than paying an adult (Abbott and Preliminary Survey of Conditions…”). Despite the lack of education and beginning child labor at a young age, many saw child labor as good for the child’s productivity and better for society to start becoming a labor source at a young age, and while children may mature faster, in the future they won’t be able to do complex jobs (Abbott, Gilman, and Schuman).

From 1910 to 1920 there was a decrease in the amount of children working in each job (expect for newsboys), which is most likely because of the child labor legislation by the States and the Federal child labor laws which was later declared unconstitutional (“Child Labor”). But the decrease still helped get kids out of the dangerous working places (“Preliminary Survey of Conditions…”).

“Boys Working in Coal Mine”
Hine, Lewis

There had been many efforts to regulate child labor. For example, in 1919 there was a federal taxation of child labor, so products created through child labor would not be eligible to be transported through interstate commerce (“Federal Taxation of Child Labor”). In addition the National Child Labor Committee was created in New York. Their job was to inspect the child labor going on, and improve the conditions for their work (“Preliminary Survey of Conditions”). Although it didn’t directly end child labor, creating the National Child Labor Committee was a step in the right direction that helped improve their health. And as I said before in discussing the decrease in child labor, there has been State legislations and a law against child labor (“Child Labor”). In addition President Theodore Roosevelt, Senator Albert J. Beveridge, and Congressman Herbert Parsons were all against child labor and in 1906 they created bills to keep children out of the dangerous working conditions (Abbott). And although overtime many bills were created, many did not pass, until President Wilson, with the support of Senator Robert L. Owen and Congressman Edward Keating passed a child labor law, that became active in 1917 (Abbott). Finally in 1934, there was a push to ratify a state legislation to add a child labor amendment (“Child Labor Drive Spurred by Green”). All in all, there has been many efforts to end the issue of child labor in the United States, but we are still not done.

For more information about child labor in America during the industrial revolution click the link for my full essay https://docs.google.com/document/d/1ECM6nBli1KBj9J269gn5MwARXOwQTVcNfgRShN3l03w/edit?usp=sharing.

Child Labor is Still Happening:

Still today in the United States we are faced with the issue of child labor, but it has improved. In 1938 the Fair Labor Standards Act greatly improved the lives of children, by creating labor laws for kids (Colihan). This created hour and age requirements, and created a list of jobs that would be considered hazardous to children (“YouthRules!”). To encourage people to follow these laws there are mighty fines if you violate any of the rules (“Wage and Hour Division (WHD)”).

Even though these child labor laws have improved the life of child laborers, there are still loopholes in laws. For example, the laws stated before are only for non agricultural jobs, but for agricultural jobs the laws are much different. When America created the Fair Labor Standards Act, many saw farmwork as wholesome, so many would be upset if agricultural work had the same rules as non agricultural work, so the decided to have a different set of rules for agricultural jobs (Colihan).

“Tobacco Worker in Work Clothes”
Evans, Benedict

Since the jobs for agricultural jobs are different than non agricultural jobs, there are a lot of kids working on farms. Especially tobacco farms which are not considered a hazardous job by the Hazardous Occupations Orders for Agricultural Employment, despite many health issues children can get from working in the tobacco farms (Ramos). Children cannot legally buy cigarettes, but child laborers working on tobacco farms have more nicotine in them than people who smoke cigarettes and they a lot of the same health issues (Colihan and Ramos). Researchers interviewed child laborers (ages 7-17) working on tobaccos farms in North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Virginia (which are the states to have the most child laborers in tobacco farms), and 75% of them suffered the same symptoms of green tobacco sickness (vomiting, nausea, dizziness, and headaches), among other issues like rashes and burning eyes (Coilhan).

There has been some effort to help end and improve child labor (especially in agricultural work). For starters, the Department of Labor in 2011 had a plan to revise the law so children would not be able to work on farms. However, many worried that taking children out of farms would seriously change the way farms worked in a negative way, so no change was made (Coilhan). A bill was created in 2014 to end child labor in tobacco farms, yet no changes have been made since (Coilhan). And the dangers of working on a tobacco farm have been addressed, for example in 2015 Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health announced certain clothes to be worn (long sleeve shirts, long pants, gloves, water resistant clothes) to protect people from dangers of tobacco, but nothing was said to address the child labor issue in tobacco farms (Ramos). Currently in the works is the Children’s Act for Responsible Employment, which will make it so children working in agricultural jobs would have the same requirements as non agricultural jobs (Maki, Reid “CLC News Release…”).

“Girl Working in Tobacco Farm”
Evans, Benedict

The US Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division helps a lot in enforcing child labor laws. This department is currently being run by Cheryl Stanton (appointed by President Trump) (Trump Taps Stanton to Head…”). And as the Wage and Hour Division District Directors, Richard Blaylock (of Raleigh, North Carolina) and Mary O’Rourke (of Grand Rapids) both said after the violations in Canton, North Carolina and Jackson, Michigan that the laws in place are there to ensure that children get a useful and great experience working. Working should not mean giving up an education or safety in the world, which is why it is important for employers to follow these rules (“U.S. Department of Labor Investigation Finds North Carolina…” and “U.S. Department of Labor Investigation Results in Michigan…”). All in all the issue of child labor has greatly improved throughout America, but there are still efforts to be made to end this problem.

For more information about the current problem of child labor in America, click the link for the full essay https://docs.google.com/document/d/1rAcJJWezmcK72BAejS19Y-jc54D0L7nEU8lMtb9Rzsg/edit?usp=sharing

Let’s Stop Child Labor

“Girl Working in Tobacco Farm”

The main issue with child labor in America lies in agricultural. Although there are issues in non-agricultural jobs, the problems are more about people breaking laws that are already in place, rather than not having the laws that should be in place. Since these laws are in place, many non-agricultural violations are found and dealt with through fines. This is because agricultural jobs have a different set of restrictions then non-agricultural jobs. In addition, children can work on tobacco farms (since tobacco is not considered hazardous work), despite tobacco being detrimental to their health, because they contain more amounts of nicotine then adults to smoke cigarettes (Ramos).

Child labor has been a problem in America for a long time, and there has been actions taken to improve children’s working conditions, but there is another huge step we can take to help end unproductive child labor (meaning it worsen the child’s health, doesn’t give them a meaningful experience, or it interferes with their education) which is to pass the Children’s Act for Responsible Employment (CARE). CARE is currently a congressional bill that would make it so the age and hour requirements for non-agricultural jobs would also apply to agricultural jobs (“Take Action”). To add onto this law, I believe that tobacco farms should be added to the list of hazardous work, because of the many health issues tobacco comes with. Also that kids under 14 should not be allowed to work on any farms, besides their family farm. This solution touches upon on all of the issues in the agricultural jobs and improves them by so much.

You as an everyday American can do something right now to help with improving child labor. The first step is to educate yourself. Go to https://www.youthrules.gov/ and learn about the age and hour requirements, and what is considered hazardous work. From there you can do so much! As an employer you are able to know if you are violating any laws and save yourself from a mighty fine. As a child employee you know the laws and if your employer is violating a law you can refuse to break the law, because you know their violating your rights. In addition as a child employee you can report any violations you’ve experienced through https://www.youthrules.gov/. Finally you can donate to the many anti child labor organizations in the world, by going to http://stopchildlabor.org/ or http://endchildlabor.net/. And by supporting these organizations you are also helping end child labor throughout the whole world! Together let’s take the steps and end unproductive child labor.

For more information about ways to help change click on the link for my full essay https://docs.google.com/document/d/1wtv2FMOtNr4mmrD1MEH3X8J6OQ6kzyu_d5Ed-o1zLIA/edit?usp=sharing

Click the link to see the work consulted https://docs.google.com/document/d/1MV4nm38aMd9x3q8SBo8ifkGlrcE28kM36iE04CPlzkE/edit?usp=sharing

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COMMENTS: 3
  1. April 28, 2019 by Parker Mergelkamp

    This webpage was filled with a lot of interesting information about a really important subject. I was really surprised by the fact that children are not allowed to buy cigarettes because they are unhealthy but they can work on tobacco farms which are more unhealthy than smoking. I am upset that children have to work in such terrible conditions and have to leave their childhood behind as well as their education to do so. I agree that a child should be a child.

  2. April 29, 2019 by Loucas Xenakis

    Hey Tia,
    This webpage full of interesting research has surely brought light to an issue I wasn’t fully aware of before. The contrast between your statement of what childhood should be like in the first paragraph, and how child labor strips that away in the following paragraphs, serve as an effective way to show the extremity of the issue. On top of that, your paragraphs flow together and tell a story that then connects to the present day. I find it interesting that there are yet to be laws restricting child labor in agriculture (which obviously seems to be a major contributor to the child labor scheme of things). I think through raising awareness, as you’ve done, is a great 1st step in the direction of stopping the issue. I’m also very curious to see what your survey results turn out to be!
    I enjoyed reading.

  3. May 05, 2019 by Takuma.Warren

    This article was really interesting to me. I am very into history and the connection you made between current world issues and its relation to the industrial revolution was very thought-provoking. I didn’t know that children were still allowed to do labor in the US and the issues with tobacco farms were all new to me. The solutions you came up with were very solid and I agree with the approach of educating the future generations of employers to ensure children are kept safe in the future.

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