Being mindful of minors

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Recent incidents of child labor law violations at Chelsea Middle School and the Helena Parks and Recreation Department should be a wakeup call to the public to be aware of restrictions regarding child labor.

While none of the violations exposed children to any physical risk, child labor laws are written for the protection of children to make sure abuse does not occur.

In Helena, two youngsters under the age of 16 worked longer hours than allowed &8212; 10 and 12-hour shifts. Laws restrict minors between the ages of 14 and 15 to no more than eight hours on any given day. Also, minors worked concession stands as late as 9:45 p.m., while law states that children under 16 can only work until 7 p.m. during the school year and 9 p.m. while school is out for summer.

At Chelsea Middle School, a 13-year-old and a 15-year-old worked without a permit to clean the school. Laws state that a child may not work until after their 14th birthday.

Brian Hayes, director of Parks and Recreation in Helena, said the violations there were honest errors. Cindy Warner, public relations supervisor with the Shelby County Board of Education said at Chelsea the teens had parental permission and there was no intent on the principal&8217;s behalf, he was just providing them a chance to earn some extra money.

Young people working and earning their own spending money is a commendable thing. However, we should all be mindful of child labor laws and follow them &045;&045; they are in place for a reason. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, child labor provisions are designed to protect the educational opportunities of youth and prohibit their employment in jobs that are detrimental to their health and safety.

Anyone with a question about work guidelines for minors should visit or contact a high school guidance counselor