“It’s absolutely legal for a small farmer to hire a 6-year-old to pick blueberries.”
~Zama Coursen-Neff, Human Rights Watch
It’s been a minute since I wrote on this issue in “Hundreds of Thousands of Children” Are Working For Slave Wages in American Fields; if you haven’t read that – you should. American children are working for large corporations picking your fruits and vegetables for slave wages sometimes as young as 6 or 7 in order to help their families put food on the table.
When you bring up something like this – you hear some bullshit argument like “working builds character”. Yeah – it does. I’ve been working since I was a young man myself and I can attest to the truth in that statement. But you know what doesn’t build character? Working for 40 or 50 or 60 hours in 100 degree weather and not going to school just because your family is poor and they need every hand on deck they can get just to survive.
That’s not building character. That’s not earning a little extra income to learn personal responsibility. When someone says something like that – they’re either completely misinformed or they’re trying to misinform others via some “divide and conquer” poll tested statement. That argument is complete bullshit; it’s a fallacy. The only thing it does is sacrifice a child’s opportunity for a great life because they had to focus on picking some grapes instead of putting their head in some books.
NBC Bay Area did this great investigative report HERE:
NBC Bay Area’s Investigative Unit spent weeks penetrating the close-knit and tight-lipped community of migrant workers and found dozens of children working the fields in the San Joaquin and Sacramento valleys – some who started work at 11-, 10- and even 8-years of age.
While an 8-year-old could not work in an office or fast-food restaurant, a 1938 law allows them to legally work in agriculture.
These children are working a full day in the fields picking, trimming and cultivating fresh fruits and vegetables. They often work 9 to10 hours a day in 100-degree-plus heat.
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