12-year-old children are working — and dying — on America’s farms
The Nation has two tragic -- and infuriating -- investigative pieces about how young farm workers (as young as twelve) are left entirely unprotected by federal labor laws. Kids, writers Mariya Strauss and Gabriel Thompson found, are getting sick, injured and killed amid unsafe working conditions.
Both articles are pegged to Labor Department's 2011 attempt to update child labor laws, which fell through in the face of pressure from the Farm Bureau and other agricultural lobbies. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, kids as young as 12 can work as hired hands in agriculture. The proposed revisions would have kept children under the age of 16 away from more dangerous tasks, just as they would in any other workplace. Instead, the workplace fatality rate for child farmworkers is four times that of children in other industries. Since the proposals were scrapped, Strauss discovered, fours farmworkers under the age of 16 died, and 16 others were injured, doing jobs that would have been off-limits: