Oppressive child labor is one of the many important issues that we teach our students about through our 10-lesson curriculum. Children who work under oppressive child labor get paid little money, work long hours in dangerous conditions, and often are unable to get an education.
When most people think of child labor, they picture children who worked in the coal mines during the early 1900’s or children working in sweatshops in foreign countries. However, our students were shocked to find out that oppressive child labor is still occurring right now in the United States.
According to the Human Rights Watch, every year hundreds of thousands of children are working in oppressive child labor on U.S. farms across the United States.
Children as young as 12-years-old can legally work on farms with their parents’ permission up to 14-hours a day and are paid less than minimum wage. They can also be exposed to pesticides and are four times more likely to drop out of high school.
Our students were outraged to learn these facts and decided to do something about it. So they wrote letters to politicians about this important issue encouraging them to take action!
Ralitsa, a 6th grade student at Dirksen Elementary School, wrote to Mayor Rahm Emanuel:
“Recently, I learned that children on some farms were being forced (they do not have much of a choice) to work as migrant farm workers. They get paid very little every day. They have to stop going to school and leave their education for a few months to work this job. Pesticides are thrown on top of them while they are working… I believe this act is very cruel. Since you are a powerful politician, you could possibly help with this problem.”
Amby, a 5th grade student at Ward Elementary School, wrote to President Barack Obama:
“Recently, I learned about child labor and how they have to work hard on farms. They get too little pay, about a dollar per hour, and they have to work for 12 whole hours. They can hurt themselves from sharp sheers. They can also get seriously hurt from pesticides. Since they have to work on child labor, they have to skip or drop out of school, which is bad for their education… Please try to ban child labor.”
We couldn’t be more proud of Ralitsa, Amby, and all our other students who decided to take action to help children who are working on farms! If you want to learn more about this lesson or any of our other lessons, don’t hesitate to contact Mickey at Mickey@teachhumane.org.