In the United States, human rights violation against children is especially prevalent against those in agriculture work. These children start working in the farm, as early as twelve years of age. They are driven to work due to extreme poverty. Most of them are also children of farm workers. They are forced to work to be able to help their families and to help sustain their own basic needs. These children work in dangerous environment, where regulations and standards are based on an adult male body.
They are daily exposed to health, emotional and physical dangers. They toiled excessively for long hours, without enough rest and with no overtime pay. This results to most of them dropping out of school. They are victims of wage fraud since they are earning below minimum wage. Their work environment does not provide enough safety measures and proper sanitation. They are very susceptible to work-related injuries and illnesses. Many juvenile farm workers also suffer from depression.
This is attributed to their economic condition and to physical and emotional stress at work. As a result, many of them become vulnerable to substance abuse, not only to escape temporarily from all the hardship, but also to be able to have more energy to work even harder and earn more. Young female workers are also exposed to sexual harassment. Most cases go unreported due to fear of being fired. The wretched working conditions of these children working in the farm are not very different from those in the third-world countries.
The author aptly describes it when he said that “in the fields, the United States is like a developing country”. It is a really unsafe and unfair world out there for these young farm workers. The sad thing is there is very little protection for them, if at all, as far as United States Labor Laws are concerned. There is no limit set to the minimum age requirements for children working in the farm. The law also does not require them to be paid when they render overtime work.
No trainings are enforced for them to be able to know and understand the harmful effects of pesticides. There is no regular inspection being conducted to check the safety and sanitation of their work environment. The Human Rights Watch initiates to change the unfortunate plight of these children. It offers the following recommendations to lawmakers and environment agencies for the welfare and well-being of all children working in agriculture: • Set a minimum age requirement for children in farm work • Set a minimum daily wage
• Set a limitation on the number of hours that children can legally work during school days and non-school days • Provide adequate housing and health care • Address educational and vocational needs • Impose penalties and fines for child labor violations • Conduct regular workplace inspection to ensure that proper sanitation and safety measures are being implemented • Implement programs that will educate these children regarding pesticide danger and safety precautions • Enforce labor regulations to all agricultural companies, including small farms
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