NEW YORK — A controversial new law in Bolivia makes it the first country to legalize work by 10-year-olds. One justification offered by officials sounded awfully familiar: “Kids want to work.”
We’ve spent the last year investigating child labor in the United States, where children at age 12, and even younger, work for tobacco farmers like Paul Hornback, a Kentucky state senator.
“Children need to experience things,” Hornback said on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart last month. “When I was a 7-year-old, I was wanting to work.”
Hornback wasn’t the first person to try to justify child labor that way.
We’ve heard that argument in our work around the world — whether about children working on gold mines in Mali and Tanzania, children harvesting sugar cane in El Salvador, or child domestic workers in Morocco. Bolivia’s regressive new law was influenced by pressure from a union of child workers arguing they need to work to support their families.
We’re asked, “Don’t these children want to work?”
Read on »