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America is divided over major efforts to rewrite child labor laws

America is divided over major efforts to rewrite child labor laws
Written by ZJbTFBGJ2T

Changes to child labor law being proposed across America  The Washington Post

Sustainable Development Goals and Child Labor Laws in the United States

America is divided over major efforts to rewrite child labor laws

Introduction

As child labor violations soar across the country, dozens of states are ramping up efforts to update child labor laws — with widespread efforts to weaken laws, but some to bolster them as well.

The Impact of the Pandemic

The push for changes to child labor laws arrives as employers — particularly in restaurants and other service-providing industries — have grappled with labor shortages since the beginning of the pandemic, and hired more teenagers whose wages are typically lower than adults’.

Rising Child Labor Violations

Labor experts attribute the spike in child labor violations, which have tripled over the past 10 years according to a Post analysis, to a tight labor market that has prompted employers to hire more teens, as well as migrant children arriving from Latin America. In 2023, teens aged 16 to 19 were working or looking for work at the highest annual rate since 2009, according to Labor Department data.

State Efforts to Change Child Labor Laws

That’s led to the largest effort in years to change the patchwork of state laws that regulate child labor, with major implications for the country’s youth and the labor market. At least 16 states have one or more bills to weaken their child labor laws and at least 13 are seeking to strengthen them, according to a report from the Economic Policy Institute and other sources. Among these states there are 43 bill proposals.

Recent Legislative Changes

Since 2022, 14 states have passed or enacted new child labor laws.

Federal Laws and State Variations

Federal law forbids all minors from working in jobs deemed hazardous, including those in manufacturing, roofing, meatpacking, and demolition. Fourteen and 15-year-olds are not allowed to work past 7 p.m. on school nights or 9 p.m. on weekends. Most states have laws that are tougher than federal rules, although there is an effort underway led by Republican lawmakers to undo those restrictions, supported by restaurant associations, liquor associations, and home builders associations.

Lobbying Efforts

A Florida-based lobbying group, the Foundation for Government Accountability, which has fought to promote conservative interests such as restricting access to anti-poverty programs, drafted or lobbied for recent bills to strip child labor protections in at least six states.

Controversial Changes in Indiana and Florida

Among them is Indiana’s new law repealing all work-hour restrictions for 16- and 17-year-olds, who previously couldn’t work past 10 p.m. or before 6 a.m. on school days. Earlier in March, Indiana enacted the law, which also extends legal work hours for 14- and 15-year-olds. In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law new changes that allow 16- and 17-year-olds to work seven days in a row. It also removes all hours restrictions for teens in online school or home school, effectively permitting them to work overnight shifts.

Efforts to Strengthen Child Labor Laws

Some states have reported soaring numbers of child-labor violations over the past year, with investigators uncovering violations in fast food restaurants, but also in dangerous jobs in meatpacking, manufacturing, and construction, where federal law prohibits minors from working. The U.S. Labor Department alleged in a lawsuit in February that a sanitation company, Fayette Janitorial Service, employed children as young as 13 to clean head splitters and other kill-floor equipment at slaughterhouses on overnight shifts in Virginia and Iowa.

State Efforts to Increase Penalties

Despite such findings, a new Iowa law signed last year by Gov. Kim Reynolds allows minors in that state to work in jobs previously deemed too hazardous, including in industrial laundries, light manufacturing, demolition, roofing, and excavation but not slaughterhouses. Separately, West Virginia enacted a new law this month that allows 16- and 17-year-olds to work some roofing jobs as part of an apprenticeship program. Six more states are also evaluating bills to lift restrictions preventing minors from working jobs considered dangerous.

Advocacy for Stronger Penalties

Republican lawmakers often say they are trying to increase opportunities or bring requirements in line with federal standards when they push to loosen child labor laws. They say that lowering restrictions helps employers fill labor shortages, while improving teenagers’ work ethic and reducing their screen time. But the spike in child labor violations and the recent deaths of minors illegally employed in dangerous jobs have also prompted a push to strengthen state laws by labor advocates.

Conclusion

Efforts to update child labor laws in the United States are ongoing, with some states seeking to weaken regulations and others aiming to strengthen them. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) play a crucial role in addressing child labor and ensuring the well-being of young workers. It is important for states to consider the impact of their legislation on the rights and safety of children, as well as the long-term implications for the labor market and society as a whole.

SDGs, Targets, and Indicators Analysis

1. Which SDGs are addressed or connected to the issues highlighted in the article?

  • SDG 4: Quality Education
  • SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities

The article discusses child labor violations and efforts to update child labor laws, which are connected to SDG 4, SDG 8, and SDG 10. SDG 4 aims to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. Child labor can hinder children’s access to education and their ability to learn. SDG 8 focuses on promoting sustained, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all. Child labor is a violation of decent work standards and can contribute to inequalities in the labor market. SDG 10 aims to reduce inequalities within and among countries, which includes addressing issues such as child labor that disproportionately affect vulnerable populations.

2. What specific targets under those SDGs can be identified based on the article’s content?

  • Target 4.1: By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable, and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes.
  • Target 8.7: Take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labor, end modern slavery and human trafficking, and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labor.
  • Target 10.7: Facilitate orderly, safe, regular, and responsible migration and mobility of people, including through the implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies.

The article highlights the need to update child labor laws to protect children’s right to education (Target 4.1) and to address the increase in child labor violations (Target 8.7). It also mentions the employment of migrant children, which relates to the need for safe and responsible migration policies (Target 10.7).

3. Are there any indicators mentioned or implied in the article that can be used to measure progress towards the identified targets?

  • Indicator 4.1.1: Proportion of children and young people (a) in grades 2/3; (b) at the end of primary; and (c) at the end of lower secondary achieving at least a minimum proficiency level in (i) reading and (ii) mathematics, by sex.
  • Indicator 8.7.1: Number of victims of forced labor per 1,000 persons aged 18 years and older.
  • Indicator 10.7.1: Recruitment cost borne by employee as a proportion of monthly income earned in country of destination.

The article does not explicitly mention specific indicators, but these indicators can be used to measure progress towards the identified targets. Indicator 4.1.1 measures the learning outcomes of children and young people, Indicator 8.7.1 measures the prevalence of forced labor, and Indicator 10.7.1 measures the financial burden of migration on individuals.

Table: SDGs, Targets, and Indicators

SDGs Targets Indicators
SDG 4: Quality Education Target 4.1: By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable, and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes. Indicator 4.1.1: Proportion of children and young people (a) in grades 2/3; (b) at the end of primary; and (c) at the end of lower secondary achieving at least a minimum proficiency level in (i) reading and (ii) mathematics, by sex.
SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth Target 8.7: Take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labor, end modern slavery and human trafficking, and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labor. Indicator 8.7.1: Number of victims of forced labor per 1,000 persons aged 18 years and older.
SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities Target 10.7: Facilitate orderly, safe, regular, and responsible migration and mobility of people, including through the implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies. Indicator 10.7.1: Recruitment cost borne by employee as a proportion of monthly income earned in country of destination.

Behold! This splendid article springs forth from the wellspring of knowledge, shaped by a wondrous proprietary AI technology that delved into a vast ocean of data, illuminating the path towards the Sustainable Development Goals. Remember that all rights are reserved by SDG Investors LLC, empowering us to champion progress together.

Source: washingtonpost.com

 

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