Put Those Lazy Kids To Work

Peter Greene


In the article "Put Those Lazy Kids to Work," the writer critiques proposed changes to Missouri's child labor laws that aim to ease restrictions on child employment, presenting a contentious dialogue on the role of work in youth development. This piece appears to juxtapose sarcastic commentary with serious concerns about the potential impact of such legislative shifts on children’s rights and education.

The Missouri bill in question would remove the requirement for schools to issue work permits for 14 and 15-year-olds, leaving only parental permission as a prerequisite for employment. This change is portrayed as detrimental, prioritizing business needs over children's welfare and educational opportunities. The article suggests that by diminishing the role of schools in overseeing work permits, children may become more vulnerable to exploitation by employers and might be coerced into prioritizing work over education.

The piece highlights the perspective of Rep. Cheri Toalson Reisch, who supports the bill with anecdotes from her own childhood work experiences. Reisch argues that early work teaches self-responsibility and asserts that today’s youth lack work ethic, contrasting this with her own story of working from a young age without it affecting her academic performance. Her comments reflect a broader narrative that equates childhood work with building character and responsibility.

However, the article criticizes this stance, pointing out the inherent risks of allowing children to work with minimal oversight and the potential for such policies to negatively affect their educational attainment and well-being. It characterizes Reisch’s support of the bill as part of a wider disregard for the protective measures typically afforded to children, suggesting a disconnect between her perceptions of self-responsibility and the realities of child labor.

For educators, this article serves as a basis for discussing the balance between work and education in youth development. It challenges students and educators to consider how employment can impact educational outcomes and child rights. Furthermore, it provides a critical lens through which to view legislative changes affecting youth, encouraging a thoughtful examination of the implications of reducing educational oversight in favor of increased employment opportunities for minors.

Educators can use this discussion to foster a nuanced understanding among students about labor laws, child rights, and the socio-economic factors that influence policy decisions regarding youth and work. This article underscores the importance of maintaining a critical perspective on policies that may prioritize economic benefits over the holistic development of young individuals.

Original Article



Prepared with the assistance of AI software

OpenAI. (2024). ChatGPT (4) [Large language model]. https://chat.openai.com

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