The Student News Source of Sparkman High School

Illustration by Olivia Lake

Senior Reflects on Child Labor as a National Epidemic

Within the dark corners of a meatpacking facility lurks a dark secret. Unbeknownst to the federal government, the building harbors a child, young enough to be enrolled in middle school, carrying out the perilous functions the facility necessitates. 

This is a scene all too familiar to countless companies across the nation, despite popular consensus and federal laws pertaining to the practice of child labor. Child labor has always been an issue in this country, and will continue to be in a capitalistic system. Companies desire a profit no matter what, and they will hire the cheapest labor available to achieve this purpose. 

It is an issue no more than ever, though, as child labor is on the rise. Over 3,800 children were employed in 2023, in violation of federal laws. Furthermore, 688 of those minors were employed in hazardous occupations. For all of these illegal employees, the companies in question had to go through innumerable different processes, including applying and interviewing. After this, they had to draft all types of different paperwork to employ someone who ultimately should not be working. This all goes to show that the companies themselves must be held accountable for hiring minors, rather than any other body, such as the government or immigration services. This latter service especially, as numerous different news outlets and even the government have begun to blame immigration laws for this disgusting influx of minor employment. 

The federal government, if anything, should be lauded as a savior to these children. Since the creation of this country, they have lobbied with every power they have available to stop this vile institution. The president has even now announced new measures to deal with the 835 companies found to have violated these laws in the last fiscal year. The government, although it does have its problems, especially when it comes to regulating private businesses, ultimately fights tooth and nail for the rights of children to not work. 

The responsibility put upon the shoulders of every executive within these companies continually hiring children unfit to work cannot be understated. Day after day, they continue to be implicated in the crimes committed in the workplace, simply by continuing to employ minors.

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