Tag Archives: child labor

Child Labor in the United States

File:Pig carcasses in a Los Angeles meat packing plant.jpg

Workers with pig carcasses at Los Angeles meat packing plant (1945), Source https://digital.library.ucla.edu/catalog/ark:/21198/zz0002qn8w, Author Los Angeles Daily News (CC-BY-4.0 International)

The term “child labor” conjures up images of 19th Century sweat shops.  If meat packing plants are mentioned, some of us may recall Upton Sinclair’s 1905 expose The Jungle [1].

Few of us would imagine that child labor practices are still engaged in today.  Unfortunately, that is the case.

Cleaning Slaughterhouses

The Labor Dept. in December settled a civil suit against Packers Sanitation Services Inc. (PSSI) for the violation of child labor laws [2].

Investigators had found some 50 children (one as young as 13 y.o.) employed by PSSI cleaning slaughterhouses at 5 different locations in Nebraska and Michigan.  An earlier investigation in Kansas was dropped when necessary records could not be obtained.

“Oppressive Child Labor” Standards

The Fair Labor Standards Act prohibits “oppressive child labor” [3].  Labor Dept. regulations identify many positions in slaughterhouses and meat packing plants as hazardous for minors.

In particular, the “kill floors” in meat packing facilities are known to have slippery surfaces from animal fat, hot water, and soap [4A].  Though safety equipment is required for their use, strong cleaning chemicals can cause caustic burns from exposure.

No Penalties or Fines

Despite all this, the Labor Dept. issued no penalties or fines to PSSI [4B]. Continue reading


Filed under Child Abuse, Child Molestation, Community, Emotional Abuse, human trafficking, Justice, Law, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Sexual Abuse, Slavery

Modern Slavery

Incomprehensible as it may be, millions today live out a modern version of slavery.  Men, women, and children are sold as if they were brute animals or inanimate objects, forced to work for little or nothing, and subjected to physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. 

Human trafficking for sexual exploitation focuses heavily on women and girls.  Children (some as young as 5 or 6) may, also, labor as domestic or agricultural workers.  As many as 53 million children under the age of 15 routinely perform extremely hazardous tasks.

William Wilberforce, an English politician, philanthropist, and abolitionist, spearheaded the parliamentary campaign against the British slave trade for over twenty five years, until passage of the Slave Trade Act in 1807.  Wilberforce then continued his efforts for over twenty five additional years, ultimately achieving passage of the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833.  His health had by then entirely failed, but his devotion takes one’s breath away.

That we are still addressing fundamental questions of liberty, justice, and equality nearly two centuries later – some 3500 years after they were first addressed in the Bible – is a reflection of what Christians would call the “sin nature” of man.  Our flawed human nature does not change from one generation to the next.  The same problems recur, albeit in different guise, one generation after another.

This might seem discouraging to non-believers, an argument for complacency.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  These are the front lines of the battle between good and evil, a battle each generation must fight for itself.  Christians know something that non-believers do not.  Though the battle may rage on, the war has been won.  It was won for us by Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Even the battle is not fought by our strength, but His.  That knowledge is empowering.  It carries us forward to accomplish the impossible.

Make no mistake.  This remains a tragedy.  We should be moved.  We should weep for these children, should pray, advocate, and fight for them.  We may not win the battle.  But our empathy, our common humanity, should be yet more threads drawing us together.

— Excerpt from Connecting Threads



Filed under Child Abuse, Emotional Abuse, Justice, Law, Physical Abuse, Poverty, Prostitution, Religion, Sexual Abuse, Slavery, Violence Against Women