Friday, May 7, 2010

Child labor in US agriculture

“[When I was 12] they gave me my first knife,” said a 17-year-old who had started working on a farm in Michigan when he was 11.“Week after week I was cutting myself. Every week I had a new scar. My hands have a lot of stories.”
Hundreds of thousands of children work in agriculture in the United States. Under US law, children can toil in the fields at far younger ages, for far longer hours, and under far more hazardous conditions than other working youth.
Children as young as 11 or 12, and sometimes younger, work for 10 or more hours a day, five to seven days a week. They typically earn less than minimum wage. They work with heavy machinery, sharp tools, and dangerous chemicals and are four-times more likely to die than children working in other jobs.
Due to the long hours and demands of farmwork, it’s not surprising that one-third of child farmworkers drop out of school. This leaves them with few options other than  a lifetime of farmwork and the poverty that accompanies it.

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