Child Labor – Children working around the world Content level: Middle school (3-4)
Overview: “Throughout human history, children have often been forced to go to work at an early age to help support their families. Although some forms of child labor are considered acceptable, most have been outlawed or at least shunned over social and moral concerns. This is mainly because child laborers are frequently forced to do dangerous jobs under poor working conditions with little or no reasonable pay. As laws against child labor have been enacted around the world, the number of active child workers has significantly declined. However, child labor continues to be a challenging problem.” Gale in Context – Middle School Overview
Get familiar with the issue: Watch this brief video about children working in Yemen. What are the reasons that children go to work in Yeman? Would you chose to go to work at a very young age? What circumstances might make you consider doing so? What are the disadvantages of doing so?
Understand child labor Learn about the basic concept of child labor and its history by reading this brief overview article. Why did child labor develop? How did the Industrial Revolution change children’s work? (If you don’t know what the Industrial Revolution was, look it up!) What are child labor laws and the Fair Labor Standards Act?
Children’s version of their work days These accounts, written by child workers in 1833, describe their work in early British factories. Read their descriptions of their work days. What were the work days in the factory like for these children? How does their daily schedule compare to yours? Did these children enjoy their work? If not, why did they do it?
Explore Images Use this link to explore images of child labor. After looking through the pictures, choose one and be prepared to describe the image to others. What is the scene depicted in the image? During what time period and in what location do you think the image was taken? What does the picture show you about the issue of child labor? Be specific and mention particular features, people, or activities captured in the image that show you what child labor is/was like? (NOTE: A few images are less directly relevant to child labor and might be omitted from selections.)
Consider an opposing view In this newspaper editorial, an adult reflects on the benefits gained from working when you are young. According to the author, what advantages does working as a young person bring? What criticisms does the author have of child labor laws? Do you agree with those criticisms? Do you still feel that laws protecting children from working conditions are important?