. "2 Scope and Patterns of Work by Children and Adolescents." Protecting Youth at Work: Health, Safety, and Development of Working Children and Adolescents in the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 1998.
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Protecting Youth at Work: Health, Safety, and Development of Working Children and Adolescents in the United States
operating a cash register. This phenomenon makes it difficult to estimate the kinds of hazardous exposures adolescents may experience on the job. Furthermore, inappropriate job titles could obscure the fact that adolescents are performing tasks prohibited by child labor laws.
Adolescents' type of employment appears to vary by family income, with youngsters from low-income families working in more hazardous jobs. An analysis by the U.S. General Accounting Office (1991) found that 20 percent of 15-to 17-year-olds from low-income families worked in hazardous industries, such as agriculture, mining, manufacturing, construction, and wholesale trade, compared with 14 percent of those from high-income families.8
Determining the extent of illegal employment among children and adolescents is difficult. By analyzing CPS data available on the number of hours worked and the occupations and using a number of assumptions, Kruse (1997) estimated that nearly 3 percent of working 15-to 17-year-olds were employed in violation of child labor laws: One-third of those were working more hours per week than allowed by law, and two-thirds were working in prohibited hazardous occupations. More than 12 percent of 15-year-olds in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health were found to be working more than the legally allowed 18 hours per week during the school year (Kruse, 1997).
Children employed in "sweatshops" and other illegal activities are likely to be underrepresented in survey data. Sweatshops are defined as businesses that regularly violate safety-and-health, wage-and-hour, or child-labor laws and are believed to be concentrated in the apparel, restaurant, and meat-processing industries. Although no good data exist on their number or the extent to which children and adolescents are employed in them, Kruse (1997) extrapolated from child labor violations found in New York City apparel firms (U.S. General Accounting Office, 1989), to estimate that about 13,000 minors a year might be employed in sweatshops.
Young people's employment in criminal activities, such as prostitution or drug dealing, has been documented only among children and adolescents who have run away from home, been thrown out of
In this study, a low-income family was defined as one with annual income of $20,000 or less, a high-income family as one with annual income of more than $60,000.