AFOP’s Children in the Fields Campaign Raises Awareness of Child Labor in the U.S.

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Today on World Day Against Child Labor, about 400,000 children in the United States will be working in the fields. Although the United States was one of the first signers of the International Labor Organization’s Convention 182, current U.S. law still continues to allow children to work long hours in hazardous jobs.

In honor of World Day Against Child Labor and to increase awareness of this inequity, the Children in the Fields Campaign launched its social media campaign today

Today on World Day Against Child Labor, about 400,000 children in the United States will be working in the fields. Although the United States was one of the first signers of the International Labor Organization’s Convention 182, current U.S. law still continues to allow children to work long hours in hazardous jobs.

The International Labor Rights Forum issued a report on June 3rd, stating that the United States has failed to comply with the International Labor Organization’s Convention 182 reached at the Worst Forms of Child Labor Convention in 1999. Article three of this Convention defines the types of labor dangerous to children including: work with dangerous machinery, with hazardous substances, temperatures or noise levels damaging to minor’s hearing. The definition for what constitutes “hazardous working conditions” for a minor has not been updated for more than 30 years.

“If the United States is to be a leader in promoting labor rights and decent work globally, we must ensure our own compliance with important international conventions like ILO Convention 182. It is critical that the U.S. government improve our own laws and enforcement to end the exploitation of child workers within our borders.” Bama Athreya, Executive Director, International Labor Rights Forum.

The Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs’ Children in the Fields Campaign is working to close the 70-year-old loophole that allows children to work at such young ages. Children who work in agriculture receive less protection than minors in any other industry.

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the legal age to perform most farm work is only 12 if a parent accompanies the working child. Children who are 12 or older can work unlimited hours in the fields before or after school hours. U.S. law also allows children working in agriculture to perform hazardous work at 16 – other workers must wait until they are adults.

“In honor of World Day Against Child Labor and to increase awareness of this inequity, the Children in the Fields Campaign launched its social media campaign today,” said Norma Flores, Program Director for AFOP’s Children in the Fields Campaign. “Our goal is to further educate the public and lawmakers on this disparity in the Fair Labor Standards Act, and advocate for the equal protection of all children.”

The new social media campaign will utilize multimedia, testimonials of farmworker children and related news through Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

To join the campaign’s efforts to protect the health and safety of child workers across the United States, please follow the Children in the Fields Campaign on Twitter (twitter.com/cifcampaign), Facebook (causes.com/cif) and YouTube (youtube.com/ChildrenintheFields).

About the Children in the Fields Campaign:
The Children in the Fields Campaign is a project of the Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs (AFOP). The campaign strives to improve the quality of life of migrant and seasonal farmworker children by advocating for enhanced educational opportunities and the elimination of discriminatory federal child labor laws in agriculture. AFOP is the national federation of non-profit and public agencies that provide job training and services for America’s farmworkers.

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