Ethan Nguyen

Youth Employment

Kids should be able to work

Dear Mr. President,

No child should feel the immense pressure of being unable to provide help for their families, unfortunately, they do. Lowering the minimum working age to possibly the age of 12 would allow children access to many beneficial rewards, including an improvement of their lives in the present, and a boost in their responsibility and confidence within their families to name a few.

Many adults condemn the idea of child workers saying in general that it is too hazardous for them, and will constrict them from their education. Although Zimbabwe professor, Michael Bourdillon, who lived almost his entire life near poor children, says he had never seen any research completed that proves it to be true. He says, “they acquire competence and confidence, learn cultural behavior and values, and establish their positions in their families and communities as members with both responsibilities and rights.”

Under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and by International Labor Organization Convention 182, harmful, hazardous, and exploitative work is forbidden. The current minimum age is prohibiting work that was shown to not be any of these. It is banning children from safe work. Additionally, Bourdillon says that many flexible programs created to cater to working children has been found to be successful in places like Egypt. He states, “Many employers show concern for their young employees and are willing to improve working conditions to make work safe, decent, and allow for schooling.”

In most cases, it is in the child’s best interest to be employed. Without a stable income from their guardians, some children experience a more difficult educational environment, and sometimes, even makes schooling impossible. A letter written by 59 practitioners and researchers focused on child rights and protection says, “many young people successfully combine work and school,” and that work would, “more likely to detract from leisure than from schoolwork.” Therefore, employing the youth would be beneficial for the children in their educational pursuits, and not impede it.

Based on circumstances, benefits from youth employment often outweighs the costs. Preventing youth employment would restrict the children from learning opportunities within in their workplace and abilities to help their lives in the present. Letting them work at the nearest fast food restaurant or small business will give them access to all of it.

Instead of enforcing a universal minimum working age policy, our world leaders, including you Mr. President, should instead be devoting that effort into creating a safe environment for youth employees.

Ethan Nguyen