Photograph by Lewis W. Hine of a small spinner at Mollohan Mills, Newberry, S.C.: “She was tending her ‘sides’ like a veteran.
After I took the photo, the overseer came up and said to her in an apologetic tone that was pathetic, ‘She just happened in.’
Then a moment later he repeated the information. The mills appear to be full of youngsters that ‘just happened in,’ or ‘are helping sister.’ National Child Labor Committee/Library of Congress.
Working in conditions that were deafening, dangerous, and mind-numbing, children, a source of cheap labor then as now, powered a large number of textile factories and sweatshops around the world throughout the early twentieth century.
On behalf of the National Child Labor Committee, an organization in the US established in 1904 to eradicate such exploitation, Hine combined his skills as a photographer and sociologist to record the working lives of children like Sadie Pfeiffer, respecting them as individuals rather than treating them as anonymous operatives.
This year’s World Day Against Child Labour will be celebrated with a “Week of Action against Child Labour 2022”.
Children around the world are routinely engaged in paid and unpaid forms of work that are not harmful to them. However, they are classified as child labourers when they are either too young to work, or are involved in hazardous activities that may compromise their physical, mental, social or educational development.
In the USA 2023 – Iowa Republicans recently worked hard to pass a law loosening the state’s child labour restrictions, in actions that are being replicated in similar political areas.
The Iowa Senate ultimately passed the bill, SB 542, by a tally of 32-17. All the chamber’s Democrats voted against the bill, as did two Republicans.
The rest of the GOP caucus voted to support the bill, which allows children as young as 14 to work six-hour night shifts, as young as 15 to work in plants on assembly lines, and as young as 16 to serve alcohol, even though children that young cannot legally drink themselves.
Changes lawmakers are seeking, such as expanding types of approved work, will potentially ‘put kids in dangerous situations’
As child labor law violations have been on the rise in the US, some state legislators are pushing for changes at state and federal levels to roll back protections in what some see as a threat to return child labor to the country. This will likely increase if the Republicans or similar politicians gain power again in Washington.
Politicians like Sarah Huckabee Sanders recently signed off on a law loosening child-labor restrictions in the state allowing children as young as 14 to be used for work
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