May 6, 2010
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Washington, DC–The National Consumers League, the nation’s oldest consumer group and a co-chair of the Child Labor Coalition, applauds the release yesterday of “Fields of Peril—Child Labor in U.S. Agriculture,” a new investigative report by Human Rights Watch. The report finds that the U.S. is failing to protect hundreds of thousands of children engaged in often grueling and dangerous work in agriculture because of loopholes in federal laws that allow them to work at younger ages, for far longer hours, and in far more hazardous conditions than in any other industry.
Children often work for hire at ages as young as 12—sometimes even younger—for 10 to 12 hours a day for five to seven days a week. Temperatures in the 90s and over 100 are not uncommon. The children risk pesticide poisoning, injury from tools and machinery, and heat illness. They suffer fatalities at four times the rate of other working children.
Educationally, the impact of child labor on these children is huge. Long hours in the fields exhaust them. Many farmworker children leave school before the school year is over, work all summer, and return long after the school year. More than half of these kids do not graduate high school, creating a cycle of generational poverty in the farmworker community.
“The time has come to fix this glaring loophole in U.S. child labor law.” said Sally Greenberg, NCL Executive Director, “Farmworker children deserve the same labor protections that other children enjoy.”
About the National Consumers League
Founded in 1899, the National Consumers League is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Its mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. NCL is a private, nonprofit membership organization. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.