Children for Hire: The Perils of Child Labor in the United States

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Despite popular belief, the problem of illegal child labor has not been remedied. The practice persists in the United States and even appears to be increasing. Levine, an acknowledged expert in the field, reveals the nature and magnitude of this old problem in today's economy. Levine explains that since 1981, there has been a relaxation in enforcement of federal child labor law provisions. He presents the complicated elements and troubling implications of a problem that has come to be ignored or overlooked in American society, focusing especially on matters of occupational health and safety. This book is important reading for the general public, as well as for scholars and policymakers involved with children's and labor issues in the United States.

The United States has more of its children in the workforce than any other developed country. They are found in textile, jewelry, and machine shops in New York and New Jersey, in Southeast supermarkets operating meat-cutting machines and paper-box bailers, in Washington state selling candy door-to-door, and in farming operations throughout the country.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Documents a growing problem of illegal child labor in the United States and a laxity in the enforcement of federal regulations.


The Chronicle of Higher Education

"Levine traces the treatment of children in sweatshop, agricultural, retail, and service work in the United States roughly from the 1930s to the present, making it clear that child-labor problems persist to this day….Levine brings a distressing story to the attention of a broad audience, including academics, policymakers, and the general public. An important work about a hidden social problem."


Library Journal, Starred Review

Levine makes it clear that the employment of children is not illegal in most cases, and he reviews the vast body of legislation at both the national and state level designed to protect the education and the safety of children….Levine does a good job of describing the legislation, discussing the abuses, and explaining the difficulties in policing the violations….Recommended. Public and academic library collections, lower-division undergraduate and up.



Library Journal
Levine (industrial relations, Robert H. Smith Sch. of Business, Univ. of Maryland) traces the treatment of children in sweatshop, agricultural, retail, and service work in the United States roughly from the 1930s to the present, making it clear that child-labor problems persist to this day. He explores the roles of employers and government bodies in regulating and monitoring conditions of young people's employment environments, safety, hours, and wage standards and finds that child-labor laws at national and regional levels are not consistently enforced, if they exist at all. Agricultural work, for example, one of the more dangerous and least supervised of child labor activities, is excluded from the Fair Labor Standards Act and only partially covered by OSHA regulations. Work environments are often of higher risk to young people, whose physical or mental developmental levels or needs are not matched with the demands of a task, resulting in death or disabilities that limit their development and educational opportunities. Levine brings a distressing story to the attention of a broad audience, including academics, policymakers, and the general public.-Suzanne W. Wood, Emerita, SUNY Coll. of Technology at Alfred Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781567204339
  • Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/30/2003
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 248
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

MARVIN J. LEVINE is Professor of Industrial Relations, Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland. He is the author or coauthor of ten earlier books, including Worker's Rights and Labor Standards in Asia's Four New Tigers.

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Table of Contents

The Scope of the Problem

The Historical Context

The Legal Context

Occupational Safety and Health in Nonfarm Employment

Risks for Child Labor in Agriculture

Sweatshops and Corporate Codes of Conduct

The Impact of Child Labor Upon Education and Development

Remedies and Reflections


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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 10, 2003


    This book provided information about child labor in the United States in a straight foward way. I was totally unaware of the majority of information presented, as much of the general public may also be. I highly reccomend this book to anyone who wants to be informed about an unhighlighted issue in the United States.

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