the hidden truth child labor a dark stain on the us
Imagine a dark workshop with 14-year-olds working. In Asia, Africa, or Latin America? It’s happening in the world’s largest and most advanced economy, the US.
Washington’s Economic Policy Institute reported shocking child labor statistics. According to this report, several US states are trying to loosen child labor laws so that industry groups can profit from the constant flow of young immigrants from the South.
You might ask, hasn’t the federal government stopped this? The New York Times investigative reporter Hannah Dreier described how the US treats undocumented teens. The Department of Health and Human Services decides “who’s going to take all of these kids in the long term” by sending unaccompanied South American teenagers to jail-like facilities. With border crossings rising, the department releases teenagers to sponsors who may exploit them for child labor without interviews or background checks.
Sponsors and dysfunctional institutions are not solely responsible. US authorities share responsibility. The US is the only UN member not to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The US government is “free” to ignore massive domestic violations of children’s basic rights because it is not bound by international law.
Those children face many dangers, including physical harm, without host country protection. Some states are lowering the age for nonhazardous and hazardous work and reducing child protection. It increases risks. Dreier mentioned children who fell from multi-story buildings and lost fingers and legs. According to the EPI report, the maximum working hours were extended, reducing those children’s school hours and undermining their career prospects.
More shockingly, children’s rights to life and health are violated in small-town underground workshops under law enforcement’s radar and in some larger companies where investigative reporters “would easily get kicked out by security guards”. This appears to be a nationwide issue.
Children, humanity’s future, should be loved and protected. That’s why most UN members have protected children from heavy labor and enshrined their rights in international law. Today’s US child labor tragedies are unacceptable.
The 53rd Human Rights Council Session in the Place des Nations must address US child labor and hold those responsible accountable.
The US must take urgent action to stop child labor within its borders. The current situation jeopardizes children’s fundamental rights and may have long-term negative effects on their physical, mental, and emotional health. The US must ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child, implement stricter laws against businesses that use young children as slaves, and enhance protection for these defenseless people. Then and only then will we be able to stop more tragedies in our backyard.