Letters on child labor laws, humanity respecting the Earth and its resources
Letters on child labor laws, humanity respecting the Earth and its ... Oklahoman.com
Lax child labor laws place kids at dangerous and unnecessary risk
A disturbing trend within state legislatures across the U.S. is the rolling back of child labor laws. The country has seen a 69% increase in child labor law violations since 2018, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
According to the 2020 Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses, Private Sector report from the Oklahoma Department of Labor, workers in the 16-19 age group had an incident rate over three times higher than older workers. Child workers are easy to exploit and are being exposed to dangerous or hazardous conditions. Their work often comes at the expense of their education.
In Oklahoma, lawmakers remain vigilant to attempts to roll back these vital laws.
As reported by Oklahoma Watch at a hearing on Oct. 30, “We must not let these kinds of bills slip under the radar,” Oklahoma Labor Commissioner Leslie Osborn told lawmakers, adding that a handful of special interest groups are driving the movement to soften child labor laws. “At the end of our time today we will agree that children are not the pathway to filling our workplace shortages.”
Joe Dorman, CEO of the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy and the Democratic gubernatorial nominee in 2014, said working children who drop out are more likely to remain in poverty than those who remain in school. He said working dropouts are also much less likely to attend college.
To stop this trend, we need stronger laws to protect children and hold companies and individuals accountable.
Here are suggested actions for improving child labor laws in Oklahoma:
- Support the 2023 Children Harmed in Life-Threatening or Dangerous (CHILD) Labor Act currently in Congress.
- Hold all employers accountable for illegal child labor and impose greater fines.
- Expand child labor requirements to subcontractors and suppliers on state and federal contracts.
- Require the Oklahoma Department of Labor to report on an annual basis, data and recommendations concerning overall trends for work-related injuries, illnesses or deaths for children.
- Provide basic educational brochures to minors on their rights related to employment.
Every kid in Oklahoma has the right to grow up with access to education and protection from exploitation.
Humanity needs to respect Earth or expect to see ghost metropolises
The article about the ghost town of Picher is a cautionary fable. (As a physician, I evaluated countless shipyard workers identifying findings of asbestos inhalation, so this story had a sense of familiarity.) One might think that the moral of the story could be the proverb, “They that dance must pay the piper.” However, the people paying (the miners, and later the plants and animals along Tar Creek) were not those doing the dancing (the mine owners and their financial backers).
The residents were also victimized by a lack of education about the dangers of lead toxicity, which have been well-known dating to Roman times. History is littered with tales of environmental damage and disease outbreaks due to unsafe and unsustainable extraction methods, sometimes leading to societal collapse. If humanity does not soon respect its obvious resource limits, the Earth may become home to ghost cities and ghost metropolises.
SDGs, Targets, and Indicators
1. Which SDGs are addressed or connected to the issues highlighted in the article?
- SDG 4: Quality Education
- SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
- SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production
- SDG 16: Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions
2. What specific targets under those SDGs can be identified based on the article’s content?
- SDG 4.4: By 2030, substantially increase the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs, and entrepreneurship.
- SDG 8.7: Take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labor, end modern slavery and human trafficking, and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labor.
- SDG 12.2: By 2030, achieve the sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources.
- SDG 16.2: End abuse, exploitation, trafficking, and all forms of violence against and torture of children.
3. Are there any indicators mentioned or implied in the article that can be used to measure progress towards the identified targets?
- Number of child labor law violations
- Incident rate of work-related injuries and illnesses for workers in the 16-19 age group compared to older workers
- Number of bills attempting to roll back child labor laws
- Number of employers held accountable for illegal child labor and fines imposed
- Extent of child labor requirements extended to subcontractors and suppliers on state and federal contracts
- Availability of educational brochures for minors on their employment rights
Table: SDGs, Targets, and Indicators
|SDG 4: Quality Education||4.4: By 2030, substantially increase the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs, and entrepreneurship.||–|
|SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth||8.7: Take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labor, end modern slavery and human trafficking, and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labor.||–|
|SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production||12.2: By 2030, achieve the sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources.||–|
|SDG 16: Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions||16.2: End abuse, exploitation, trafficking, and all forms of violence against and torture of children.||–|
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