Monday, August 29, 2011

CBS News: "Farm Labor: Children in the Fields"

The CBS News article, "Farm Labor: Children in the Fields" explores some of the lives of young farm laborers in America and raises ethical questions relating to the fact that children as young as twelve could be out working in the fields.

The article begins with two teenage boys, 13 and 17 years old, who work with their father in the fields during the hot summer in Texas. They work roughly ten hours a day and are paid minimum wage, $7.25 per hour. If it rains, they don't get paid.

Their father mentions how hard the work is, especially in the heat. The children both admit that they do not like the work they have to do, but one says he does it "to help my parents, to buy us clothes and school supplies." And the other says, "'s very important, so we can help 'em all pay the bills and everything."

It appears that some children are working in the fields in order for their families (and themselves) to survive financially. Farming is the only choice because unlike other industries, children as young as twelve can work.

This article relates to the story of many migrants who leave their families behind because they want to support their family financially. It's often a choice they do not want to make, but they feel like they have to. This is seen in Enrique's Journey when Enrique's mother leaves Honduras as well as Enrique and other migrants in the novel. They seek out a better life financially, so they leave in hopes of finding work in the U.S. Many migrants, like Enrique's mother and Enrique himself, will send money back home to their families, to give them the lives they never would have had otherwise.

Sure, the children that are often left behind can survive better financially, but there's the lack of closeness, connection, and love with their migrant parent(s). This often drives children, like Enrique, to leave and search for their parents. As for the young children who work on the farm to help out their family, they lose parts of their childhood, their summers, and have to work long grueling hours. So, it begs the question "is fleeing to the U.S. or farming at a young age to financially support the family worth it?"

The article provides insight to just a few examples of young farmers in the U.S. and of course, the issues don't necessarily apply to all farmers. For more information, read the article here. There's more to read about migrants from Mexico and Central America who are also working on the farms.

Feel free to post a comment about the article! We would love to hear what you think.

Photo/Video Credit: Bryon Pitts. "The Debate on Child Farm Labor". 60 Minutes. 9 September 2011.

Jessica Waala

Undergraduate Student

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

does anyone know if employment credit is given for those whom worked in the the 70's?

September 19, 2011 at 11:02 PM  

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