The Human Cost: In America, it’s legal for kids as young as 12 to work on small farms. One former child laborer describes ‘dangerous and back-breaking work.’

by | Sep 10, 2022 | Stock Market

Norma Flores López was 12 when she began working 10- to 12-hour days, every day of the week.Because that grueling work occurred on a farm, it was allowed. Kids in the U.S. can take on unlimited hours of agricultural labor so long as they don’t miss school and have a parent’s permission. López told the U.S. House Education and Labor Workforce Protections Subcommittee during a remote hearing on child agricultural labor Wednesday that her parents, who also worked with her on farms, had done that kind of labor when they were young kids, too.

“I was expected to keep up with adults and often pushed myself beyond my limits while performing dangerous and back-breaking work with sharp tools in 100-degree weather,” an adult López, now a committee chair for the Child Labor Coalition, testified during the hearing. “Necessities such as bathrooms and clean drinking water were not always guaranteed, and neither was safety training or equipment,” she said. “These were the everyday dangers considered to be inherent to the industry.” 

“In other industries, children typically cannot work until they’re at least 14, and even then they’re subjected to limited hours. Yet there is no minimum age for children who work on small or family farms.”

In other industries, children typically cannot work until they’re at least 14 years old, and even then they’re subjected to limited hours. Yet there is no minimum age for children who work on small or family farms, according to Human Rights Watch, a research and advocacy group. Kids working on farms can also do what’s deemed to be hazardous work when they’re as young as 16, while workers in other sectors must be 18 before they can do such tasks. “Workers at a deli counter cannot use …

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