This morning, I served as a guest on the terrific "Where We Live" program that airs daily on WNPR.  You can listen to the broadcast here.  It’s difficult to recap a one-hour broadcast in a short blog post so here are a few of my random observations and thoughts after today’s session. 

  • To some callers, the issue of child labor is an educational one — namely kids should be allowed to work so they get can understand the value of money and develop a strong work ethic.  Indeed one caller talked about how he had his kids (including an 8 year old) working on a brownfields site with machetes clearing land.  But lost in the conversation is the difference between giving kids some experience (fishing, for example) and making them do tasks we’d commonly view as work.  Where is the line to be drawn?
  • It remains to be seen whether a "parental exception" to child labor laws is something that will have any political backing in next year’s session. Representative Linda Scofield (D-Simsbury) called in to say that she might try to introduce something again but until more legislators view this as a priority, it’s hard to think that this will gain any traction.
  • Do you legislate to protect the worst-case scenarios even if a few incidents don’t really merit government intervention? So far, Connecticut has taken a strong approach only carving out some limited exceptions. 
  • Are 13 year old babysitters really violating state law?  The state’s website suggests yes, but that would put a lot of babysitters out of business. In the real world, these types of incidents are not policed by the Department of Labor. 
  • What you didn’t hear on the broadcast is that the computer system between the host and producer was down.  This led to the producers writing caller names and towns on paper and taping them to a window (see the picture above). The fact that you couldn’t tell this was going on is a testament to how good the host, John Dankosky, is.
  • Never underestimate the number of people who listen to NPR; I’m truly amazed at how many people tune in for a 9 a.m. show (replaying at 7 p.m.).

So what do you think? Are the state’s child labor laws too strict? Or do they strike the right balance between protecting kids and keeping them safe, and ensuring that they get some experience when they are older?

(Here are some photos taken by Chion Wolf from today’s session. My sincere thanks to her for permission to use these photos. )

  • Steven Zweibel

    Congratulations on the show. I thought you came off sounding very knowledgeable. I have never really thought about this topic in any great detail. I understand the need for the state to keep children safe but it would seem to me there is a middle ground where children can learn the value of hard work and appreciate the effort that goes into earning a dollar. If I owned a business I would want my children to experience what it was like and gain from that exposure (even if they did not go into the business). I guess the gray area depends on exactly what those kids will be doing – arc welding = not good, alphabetizing papers (as I did for my father when very young) = OK. It would seem to me that the legislature has plenty else to worry about now and will not be focusing on this issue.