This research seeks to investigate the magnitude of child labor in America. How is it a major problem? What are the consequences that are associated with child labor? Are there any available solutions to this menace? These are some of the questions that this research seeks to answer. This study is important because, child labor is a thorny issue in America. It has become rampant with most employers. There have been various research carried out by individual researchers as well as other institutions on this topic. The scholars have more or less agreed about my topic, and my paper argues for a better interpretation.
A comparative case study is the methodology utilized by this study. It utilizes the benefits of using comparative case studies in the topic of discussion, which is child labor in America. Information dealing with this research topic is in abundance. By looking at previous researches and studies, this research ascertains the magnitude of child labor in America. It also establishes the dynamics involved with this topic. In order to understand child labor, it is the employment of children in labor that is regular and sustained. It is considered like being exploitative by international organizations and illegal in most countries.
This study has established that for some years now, child labor has been an issue exploited by many employers or businesses because they feel that it help the family of the children, who could need an additional income to supplement what they currently get. In their part, businesses spend less when the employ these children. However, that should not be an excuse for employers to abuse the right of children. It all dates back to the colonial era; the United States did not have any laws that protected children from working conditions that are harsh. During this time, European families that were impoverished could send their children to America as indentured servants.
It is sad to note that these children had to work in the mines, mills, glass factories, textiles, agriculture, canneries, home industries, as well as, other harsh environments for the purpose of earning some passage, room or board. They have worked in various capacities as messengers, peddlers, newsboys, and bootblacks. There were those who had been under contract while others were not. Children have been preferred by most employers because they have often been viewed as being cheaper, more manageable, and less likely to revolt or strike (Basu & Phan 1998).
However, a decline in child labor picked up when reform and labor movements started to grow. This is the time that labor standards, generally, started to improve. There was an increase in the political will and power of workers and social reformers to begin demanding legislation that regulated child labor in America. Child labor reforms, as well as, union organizing became a common phenomenon.
This research has also established that Working Women Societies and State consumers started conducting common initiatives aimed at opposing child labor. They did this through labeling programs and anti-sweatshop campaigns. Combined efforts to end child labor by the National Child Labor Committee were directed at providing compulsory education to all children; which was for free. Moreover, this was culminated by passing of the Fair Labor Standards Act in the year 1938. This is what set federal standards that dealt with child labor.
When child labor is mentioned, people think it only happens in China and India. However, in reality, it also happens in America. The United States Department of Labor has been on the forefront in curbing the use of illegal child labor in factories, plants, and on farms across the country. The Department of labor has come up with new regulations, in addition to stiffer penalties for, employers who have children working under them illegally. It is also encouraging to note that these regulations have tremendously increased existing protections for those children who work on farms; these are the most vulnerable lot. Children under sixteen years of age are restricted and advised not to do overwhelming work or work during school hours.
It is also important to note that the Department of Labor did launch a task force that carries out investigations dealing with child labor. The violations have also included workers being denied overtime pay, unhealthy working conditions, or working for long hours. It is essential that these investigations also cover restaurants, construction companies, as well as retail stores. Child labor remains to be a thorny issue in our society that should be dealt with. It is intriguing to note that, in developed countries like America, children can be exploited in the industries that process what people use every other day (Baland, & James 2000).
In my opinion, the first step towards curbing this vice is to hold every employer, who abuses children, accountable. Moreover, claims of child labor violations should be investigated with an immediate effect. Doing all these will make sure that illegal child labor becomes a thing of the past in America.
This research has also ascertained that, in neighboring countries such as Canada, child labor has not been a big issue because the industries over there developed much later. However, most of the Canadian provinces today have put in place child labor laws that curb illegal child labor. Most of these laws are similar to those in the United States. Moreover, most other countries have also put in place laws that do regulate child labor, too. However, the biggest challenge comes in the implementation of these laws. More often than not, they are not enforced, and hence, therefore, child labor continues to be a problem globally.
The research has also established that Britain was the first in passing several laws that regulated child labor. As early as from 1802 to the year 1878, several laws had been passed that aimed at shortening working hours, improve working conditions, in addition to, raising the age required for children to work (Jane, 2010). Many other European countries have also adopted similar laws and regulations.
In 1918 and 1922, the Congress passed two laws. However, they were declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. It then followed later that Congress passed the Fair Labor Standards Act, which fixed minimum ages of 18 for dangerous work, 16 for work during school time, and 14 for jobs during non-school hours.
Just to have a clear view of the magnitude of this vice, the UNICEF has an estimate of about 160 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 in child labor globally; this excludes child domestic labor. There has been a research in 1997 which showed that over forty thousand child laborers were in the silk-weaving industry in India. This just shows the magnitude of the situation in some developing countries.
It has taken many years for the United States to outlaw child labor. Some states like Connecticut had passed a law in the year 1813 that required all working children to at least have some form of schooling before they could work. In the coming years, more and more states passed several laws that regulated child labor. All the states and the federal government put in place laws that do regulate child labor. These laws will go a long way in helping to curb the violations upon children working in factories across the land. However, there are other types of work that are not regulated. For example, children of migrant workers have no form of legal protection. There are farmers that may legally employ them when they are not in school. Because the children move from place to place, they end up getting little or no schooling at all. Exploited children end up being uneducated, or ill.