In the United States, Representative Ryan Mackenzie of Pennsylvania has introduced new legislation that would increase the penalties for child labor law violations. The new policies set out to improve reporting requirements when violations are found, via reports by Lehigh Valley Business.
Taking action to protect children
While many U.S. states are considering or have made child labor protection rollbacks, Mackenzie aims to put in place stronger protections.
“The number of child labor violations nationwide has jumped dramatically in recent years, and it’s time we do something about it,”
According to The Guardian, it was discovered that unaccompanied minors were found to be cleaning slaughterhouses at night, and working in factories, among other dangerous prohibited occupations. In addition, current data indicates that over the last two years, about 263,000 unaccompanied minors have been placed with sponsors in the U.S., with over 34,000 of those children living with nonfamily sponsors or distant relatives.
“Heinous activity that is exploiting innocent children”
Mackenzie’s bill aims to help the state clamp down on violations of child labor laws in Pennsylvania and points to the need for state and federal action to stop this form of exploitation and modern slavery.
“Our state laws should be strengthened to better protect any at-risk child in the workplace and more harshly punish employers who take advantage of them.”
House Bill 1714 would make the following changes to Pennsylvania’s Child Labor Act:
- A violation of the act would be a second-degree misdemeanor if the violation was willful, and the employer knew or should have known the child was without proper parental supervision and took advantage of the situation.
- The Department of Labor and Industry would be required, when applicable, to cross-report violations to appropriate federal and child welfare authorities. This would ensure an at-risk minor is removed from a dangerous working or living situation.
- An annual report would be required to detail the nature of violations, the locations, and the industries where violations are most frequently occurring.
The bill has been referred to the House Labor and Industry Committee, for which Mackenzie currently serves as Republican chairman.
Freedom United stands with Representative Mackenzie and all lawmakers who take a stand against child labor violations and abuse. Stand with us by signing a letter to those states looking to roll back existing protections and ask legislators to stop facilitating the exploitation of children and instead use their position to prevent abuse and protect our children.